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How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?

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  • Charness, Gary
  • Frechette, Guillaume R
  • Kagel, John H

Abstract

The gift-exchange game is a form of sequential prisoner’s dilemma, developed by Fehr, Kirchsteiger, and Riedl (1993), and popularized in a series of papers by Ernst Fehr and co-authors. While the European studies typically feature a high degree of gift exchange, the few U.S. studies provide some conflicting results. We find that the degree of gift exchange is surprisingly sensitive to an apparently innocuous change—whether or not a comprehensive payoff table is provided in the instructions. We also find significant and substantial time trends in responder behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Charness, Gary & Frechette, Guillaume R & Kagel, John H, 2002. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8qq4k3ph, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt8qq4k3ph
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    2. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    3. Pereira, Paulo T. & Silva, Nuno & Silva, Joao Andrade e, 2006. "Positive and negative reciprocity in the labor market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 406-422, March.
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