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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. John O. Ledyard, 1994. "Public Goods: A Survey of Experimental Research," Public Economics 9405003, EconWPA, revised 22 May 1994.
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  3. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  5. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  10. 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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  19. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  20. Ochs, Jack & Roth, Alvin E, 1989. "An Experimental Study of Sequential Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 355-84, June.
  21. Gale, John & Binmore, Kenneth G. & Samuelson, Larry, 1995. "Learning to be imperfect: The ultimatum game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 56-90.
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  24. Jacobsen, Eva & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1996. "Experimental Proof for the Motivational Importance of Reciprocity," Discussion Paper Serie B 386, University of Bonn, Germany.
  25. 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.
  26. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon G├Ąchter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  27. Gary E Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1997. "A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1889, David K. Levine.
  28. Segal, Uzi, 1992. "Additively separable representations on non-convex sets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 89-99, February.
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  38. Gary Charness, 1996. "Attribution and reciprocity in a simulated labor market: An experimental investigation," Economics Working Papers 283, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1997.
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  42. Bolton Gary E. & Zwick Rami, 1995. "Anonymity versus Punishment in Ultimatum Bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 95-121, July.
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