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Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission

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  • James C. Cox
  • MaroÅ¡ Servátka
  • Radovan Vadovic

Abstract

Both the law and culture make a central distinction between acts of commission that overturn the status quo and acts of omission that uphold it. In everyday life acts of commission often elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in two experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories, Axiom R (for reciprocity) and Axiom S (for status quo). We find support for this theory in both experiments.

Suggested Citation

  • James C. Cox & MaroÅ¡ Servátka & Radovan Vadovic, 2012. "Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2012-03, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Mar 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2012-03
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    Cited by:

    1. James C. Cox, 2012. "Private Goods, Public Goods, and Common Pools with Homo Reciprocans," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 79(1), pages 1-14, July.
    2. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2015. "Norm enforcement in social dilemmas: An experiment with police commissioners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 74-85.
    3. Michael Hallsworth & John A. List & Robert D. Metcalfe & Ivo Vlaev, 2015. "The Making of Homo Honoratus: From Omission to Commission," NBER Working Papers 21210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Markussen, Thomas & Putterman, Louis & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2016. "Judicial error and cooperation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 372-388.
    5. Gärtner, Manja & Sandberg, Anna, 2014. "Is there an omission effect in prosocial behavior?," SSE Working Paper Series in Economics 2014:1, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 03 Dec 2015.

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    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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