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Tit for Tat: Foundations of Preferences for Reciprocity in Strategic Settings

  • Segal, Uzi
  • Sobel, Joel

This paper assumes that in addition to the conventional (selfish) preferences over outcomes, players in a strategic environment have preferences over strategies. In the context of two-player games, it provides conditions under which a player's preferences over strategies can be represented as a weighted average of the individual's selfish payoffs and the selfish payoffs of the opponent. The weight one player places on the opponent's selfish utility depends on the opponent's behavior. In this way, the framework is rich enough to describe the behavior of individuals who repay kindness with kindness and meanness with meanness. The paper assumes that each player has an ordering over his opponent's strategies that describes the niceness of these strategies. It introduces a condition that insures that the weight on opponent's utility increases if and only if the opponent chooses a nicer strategy.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt9xf8836g.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 1999
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt9xf8836g
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  1. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
  2. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  5. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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  7. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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  9. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
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  23. D. B. Bernheim, 2010. "Rationalizable Strategic Behavior," Levine's Working Paper Archive 514, David K. Levine.
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  34. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
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  40. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  41. Jacobsen, Eva & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1996. "Experimental Proof for the Motivational Importance of Reciprocity," Discussion Paper Serie B 386, University of Bonn, Germany.
  42. Gary E Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1997. "A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1889, David K. Levine.
  43. Pearce, David G, 1984. "Rationalizable Strategic Behavior and the Problem of Perfection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 1029-50, July.
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