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Testing Theories of Reciprocity: Do Motivations Matter?

  • Luca Stanca

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)

  • Luigino Bruni

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)

  • Luca Corazzini

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)

One of the key issues for understanding reciprocity is how people evaluate the kindness of an action. In this paper we argue that the motivation driving an action plays an important role for the reciprocating response to that action. We test experimentally the hypothesis that reciprocal behavior is stronger in response to actions driven by intrinsic motivation, as opposed to extrinsic motivation. Our results indicate that reciprocity is significantly stronger when extrinsic motivation can be ruled out, both at the aggregate and the individual level. These findings suggest that models of reciprocal behavior should take into account not only outcomes but also intentions and, in particular, motivations: the type of motivation of an action matters for its perceived kindness and, as a consequence, for reciprocity.

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File URL: http://dipeco.economia.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper109.pdf
File Function: First version, 2007
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Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 109.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision: 2007
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:109
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  2. Gary Charness and Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," Economics Working Papers E00-283, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
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  14. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  15. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough Or Don'T Pay At All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810, August.
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  17. Falk, Armin & Gachter, Simon & Kovacs, Judit, 1999. "Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic incentives in a repeated game with incomplete contracts," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 251-284, June.
  18. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  19. Gary Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 207-219, December.
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  25. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
  26. Avner Ben-Ner & Famin Kong & Louis Putterman & Dan Magan, . "Reciprocity in a Two-Part Dictator Game," Working Papers 0902, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
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  28. James, Harvey Jr., 2005. "Why did you do that? An economic examination of the effect of extrinsic compensation on intrinsic motivation and performance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 549-566, August.
  29. Andreoni, James & Brown, Paul M. & Vesterlund, Lise, 2002. "What Makes an Allocation Fair? Some Experimental Evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, July.
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