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The Effect of Motivations on Social Indirect Reciprocity: an Experimental Analysis

  • Luca Stanca


  • Luigino Bruni


  • Marco Mantovani

This paper investigates the effects of motivations on the perceived kindness of an action within the context of strong social indirect reci- procity. We test experimentally the hypothesis that, for a given dis- tributional outcome, an action is perceived by a third party to be less kind if it can be strategically motivated. The results do not support this hypothesis: social indirect reciprocity is indeed found to be signif- icantly stronger when strategic motivations cannot be ruled out. We interpret these findings as an indication of the role played by team reasoning in explaining reciprocal behavior.

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Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 169.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision: Aug 2009
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:169
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  1. Werner G³th & Manfred K÷nigstein & NadÞge Marchand & Klaus Nehring, 2001. "Trust and Reciprocity in the Investment Game with Indirect Reward," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 18, pages 241-262.
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  3. Gachter, Simon & Falk, Armin, 2002. " Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(1), pages 1-26.
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  5. Ben Greiner & Maria Vittoria Levati, 2003. "Indirect Reciprocity in Cyclical Networks - An Experimental Study -," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2003-15, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  6. Stanca, Luca & Bruni, Luigino & Corazzini, Luca, 2009. "Testing theories of reciprocity: Do motivations matter?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 233-245, August.
  7. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  8. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  9. Engelmann, Dirk & Fischbacher, Urs, 2009. "Indirect reciprocity and strategic reputation building in an experimental helping game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 399-407, November.
  10. Bolton, Gary E. & Katok, Elena & Ockenfels, Axel, 2005. "Cooperation among strangers with limited information about reputation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1457-1468, August.
  11. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "Testing Theories of Fairness - Intentions Matter," IEW - Working Papers 063, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  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.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
  15. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  16. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  17. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  18. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-64, May.
  19. Ven van de, B. & Graafland, J.J., 2006. "Strategic and moral motivation for corporate social responsibility," MPRA Paper 20278, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  20. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  21. Luca Stanca, 2007. "Measuring Indirect Reciprocity: Whose Back Do We Scratch?," Working Papers 131, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2007.
  22. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
  23. Bruni, Luigino & Sugden, Robert, 2008. "Fraternity: Why The Market Need Not Be A Morally Free Zone," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(01), pages 35-64, March.
  24. Kevin Murdock, 2002. "Intrinsic Motivation and Optimal Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 650-671, Winter.
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