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On blame-freeness and reciprocity: an experimental study

Author

Listed:
  • Mariana Blanco
  • Bogachan Celen
  • Andrew Schotter

Abstract

The theory of reciprocity is predicated on the assumption that people are willing to reward nice or kind acts and to punish unkind ones. This assumption raises the question as to how to define kindness. In this paper we offer a new definition of kindness that we call blame-freeness." Put most simply, blame-freeness states that in judging whether player i has been kind or unkind to player j in a socialsituation, player j would have to put himself in the strategic position of player i, while retaining his preferences, and ask if he would have acted in a manner that was worse than i did under identical circumstances. If j would have acted in a more unkind manner than i acted, then we say that j does not blame i for his behavior. If, however, j would have been nicer than i was, then we say that "j blames i" for his actions (i´s actions were blameworthy). We consider this notion a natural, intuitive and empirically relevant way to explain the motives of people engaged in reciprocal behavior. After developing the conceptual framework, we then test this concept in a laboratory experiment involving tournaments and find significant support for the theory."

Suggested Citation

  • Mariana Blanco & Bogachan Celen & Andrew Schotter, 2010. "On blame-freeness and reciprocity: an experimental study," Documentos de Trabajo 7270, Universidad del Rosario.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000092:007270
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    File URL: http://repository.urosario.edu.co/bitstream/handle/10336/10796/7270.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthias Kräkel, 2008. "Emotions and the optimality of uneven tournaments," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 61-79, March.
    2. Kräkel, Matthias, 2008. "Emotions in tournaments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 204-214, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg & Alec Smith, 2015. "Frustration and Anger in Games," Working Papers 539, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. Matthew Chao, 2018. "Intentions-Based Reciprocity to Monetary and Non-Monetary Gifts," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-18, September.
    3. Chao, Matthew & Chapman, Jonathan, 2020. "Saving face through preference signaling and obligation avoidance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 569-581.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruism; blame; reciprocity.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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