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Indirect Reciprocity and Strategic Reputation Building in an Experimental Helping Game

  • Dirk Engelmann
  • Urs Fischbacher

We study indirect reciprocity and strategic reputation building in an experimental helping game. At any time only half of the subjects can build a reputation. This allows us to study both pure indirect reciprocity that is not contaminated by strategic reputation building and the impact of incentives for strategic reputation building on the helping rate. We find that while pure indirect reciprocity appears to be important, the helping choice seems to be influenced at least as much by strategic considerations. Strategic do better than non-strategic players and non-reciprocal do better than reciprocal players, casting doubt on previously proposed evolutionary explanations for indirect reciprocity.

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Paper provided by The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague in its series CERGE-EI Working Papers with number wp215.

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Date of creation: Jul 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cer:papers:wp215
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  1. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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  7. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  9. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  10. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  11. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  12. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  13. Gary Bolton & Elena Katok & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "How Effective are Online Reputation Mechanisms?," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-25, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  14. Claudia Keser, 2002. "Trust and Reputation Building in E-Commerce," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-75, CIRANO.
  15. Seinen, Ingrid & Schram, Arthur, 2006. "Social status and group norms: Indirect reciprocity in a repeated helping experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 581-602, April.
  16. Harbaugh, William T, 1998. "The Prestige Motive for Making Charitable Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 277-82, May.
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