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Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission

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Both the law and culture make a central distinction between acts of commission that overturn the status quo and acts of omission that uphold it. In everyday life acts of commission often elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in three experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories. We find support for this theory in all three experiments.

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  • James C. Cox & Maroš Servátka & Radovan Vadovic, 2013. "Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission," Working Papers in Economics 13/25, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbt:econwp:13/25
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    File URL: http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/RePEc/cbt/econwp/1325.pdf
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    1. Rutstrom, E. Elisabet & Williams, Melonie B., 2000. "Entitlements and fairness:: an experimental study of distributive preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 75-89, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Hallsworth & John A. List & Robert D. Metcalfe & Ivo Vlaev, 2015. "The Making of Homo Honoratus: From Omission to Commission," NBER Working Papers 21210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Markussen, Thomas & Putterman, Louis & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2016. "Judicial error and cooperation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 372-388.
    3. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2015. "Norm enforcement in social dilemmas: An experiment with police commissioners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 74-85.
    4. Gärtner, Manja & Sandberg, Anna, 2014. "Is there an omission effect in prosocial behavior?," SSE Working Paper Series in Economics 2014:1, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 03 Dec 2015.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experimental economics; reciprocity; revealed altruism; acts of commission; acts of omission; other-regarding preferences; status quo;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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