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Understanding reciprocity

  • Rajiv Sethi


    (Columbia University)

  • E.Somanathan


    (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

This paper surveys the evolutionary game theoretic literature on reciprocity in human interactions, dealing both with long-term relationships and with sporadic interactions. Four basic themes, repetition, commitment, assortation, and parochialism, appear repeatedly throughout the literature. Repetition can give rise to the evolution of behavior that exhibits reciprocity-like features but a vast array of other behaviors are also stable. In sporadic interactions, reciprocity can be stable if the propensity to punish selfish actions can induce opportunists to cooperate, if reciprocators themselves behave opportunistically when they expect others to do so, or if matching is sufficiently assortative.

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Paper provided by Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India in its series Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers with number 02-05.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:02-05
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