IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Another experimental look at reciprocal behavior: indirect reciprocity


  • Bonein, Aurélie
  • Serra, Daniel


This paper highlights a new social motivation, the indirect reciprocity, through a three-player dictator-ultimatum game. Player 2 has the opportunity to reward or punish indirectly the player 1 by inciting – with her offer - player 3 to accept or to reject the division. We implement three treatments: in the first two we vary player 2’s available information whereas in treatment 3, players take part in a dictator game - as proposers - before being player 2s in the dictator-ultimatum game. Results show that 55% of subjects in treatment 2 and 28% in treatment 3 behave as indirect reciprocity predicts. Another reciprocal behavior - the generalized reciprocity - is investigated through a three-player dictator game. Our data show that 80% of players 2 act according to this reciprocal behavior. Finally, our findings confirm that the more complex the strategic interaction becomes the more self-regarding behavior is likely and the less other-regarding behaviors, such as reciprocity, dominate.

Suggested Citation

  • Bonein, Aurélie & Serra, Daniel, 2007. "Another experimental look at reciprocal behavior: indirect reciprocity," MPRA Paper 3257, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3257

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin G. Kocher & Ganna Pogrebna & Matthias Sutter, "undated". "The Determinants of Managerial Decisions Under Risk," Working Papers 2008-04, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
    4. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    5. Max Albert & Werner Güth & Erich Kirchler & Boris Maciejovsky, 2007. "Are we nice(r) to nice(r) people?—An experimental analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(1), pages 53-69, March.
    6. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    7. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2000. "Hot vs. Cold: Sequential Responses and Preference Stability in Experimental Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(3), pages 227-238, March.
    8. Dufwenberg, M. & Gneezy, U. & Güth, W. & van Damme, E.E.C., 2001. "Direct versus indirect reciprocity : An experiment," Other publications TiSEM 2a75bfed-5330-4042-87be-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. 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.
    10. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
    11. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2006. "Homo Reciprocans: Survey Evidence on Prevalence, Behaviour and Success," CEPR Discussion Papers 5789, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Kirchsteiger, Georg & Sebald, Alexander, 2010. "Investments into education--Doing as the parents did," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 501-516, May.
    13. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2006. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism - Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
    14. Vieira, José A. Cabral, 2005. "Skill mismatches and job satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 39-47, October.
    15. 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.
    16. Gary Charness & Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel, 2004. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 7(2), pages 189-205, June.
    17. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    18. Oxoby, Robert J. & McLeish, Kendra N., 2004. "Sequential decision and strategy vector methods in ultimatum bargaining: evidence on the strength of other-regarding behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 399-405, September.
    19. Armin Falk, 2007. "Gift Exchange in the Field," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(5), pages 1501-1511, September.
    20. Ben-Ner, Avner & Putterman, Louis & Kong, Fanmin & Magan, Dan, 2004. "Reciprocity in a two-part dictator game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 333-352, March.
    21. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    22. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
    23. Luca Stanca, Luigino Bruni, Luca Corazzini, 2007. "Testing Theories of Reciprocity: Does Motivation Matter?," ISLA Working Papers 29, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    24. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Chun-Lei Yang, 2003. "The Hot Versus Cold Effect in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 6(1), pages 75-90, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. António Osório, 2017. "A Sequential Allocation Problem: The Asymptotic Distribution of Resources," Group Decision and Negotiation, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 357-377, March.
    2. Osório, António (António Miguel), 2016. "A Sequential Allocation Problem: The Asymptotic Distribution of Resources," Working Papers 2072/266574, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    3. Aurélie Bonein, 2006. "An empirical study of determinants in decision-making process," Working Papers 06-10, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Oct 2006.
    4. Hurt, Wesley & Osório, António (António Miguel), 2014. "A Sequential Allocation Problem: The Asymptotic Distribution of Resources," Working Papers 2072/237596, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    5. Osorio, Antonio, 2014. "A Sequential Allocation Problem: The Asymptotic Distribution of Resources," MPRA Paper 56690, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    indirect reciprocity; generalized reciprocity; dictator game; ultimatum game; individual behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3257. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.