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The Impact of Random Help on the Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity

Cooperation via indirect reciprocity uses a partner's reputation to enable subjects to direct help to those who cooperated themselves. As a partner's reputation provides information whether the partner helped a third party in the past or not, subjects can help those partners with a good reputation. Whereas help in former studies implied a denite monetary transfer to a third party, the present study explores the implica- tions for cooperation via indirect reciprocity if a helping decision does not necessarily involve a monetary transfer. The study employs a "repeated helping game" where a chance move determines whether help actually leads to a reward for the recipient or not. Hence, a good reputation may not coincide with a positive income for the third party. The experimental results show that, firstly, if a chance move determines the outcome of helping decisions, the information about the past decision of partners has a smaller effect on cooperation rates as compared to a situation where helping decisions denitely lead to rewards. This suggests that risk substantially inuences the dynamics of indi- rect reciprocity. Secondly, subjects only reciprocate the recipient's good reputation and disregard whether a good reputation also involves a benecial outcome for the third party. Here, ndings oppose those found in studies on direct reciprocity where both the player's good intentions or good will and the actual monetary amount transferred affect reciprocal back-givings.

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File URL: http://www.iaw.edu/RePEc/iaw/pdf/iaw_dp_88.pdf
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Paper provided by Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW) in its series IAW Discussion Papers with number 88.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iaw:iawdip:88
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  1. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 2000. "Fair Procedures. Evidence from Games Involving Lotteries," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 483.01, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
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  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  10. Dirk Engelmann & Urs Fischbacher, 2003. "Indirect Reciprocity and Strategic Reputation Building in an Experimental Helping Game," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp215, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  11. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. 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.
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  17. Servtka, Maros, 2009. "Separating reputation, social influence, and identification effects in a dictator game," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 197-209, February.
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