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Testing Theories of Reciprocity: Does Motivation Matter?

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: ftp://ftp.unibocconi.it/pub/RePEc/slp/papers/islawp29.pdf
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Paper provided by ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy in its series ISLA Working Papers with number 29.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:slp:islawp:islawp29
Contact details of provider: Postal: via Sarfatti, 25 - 20136 Milano - Italy
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Web page: http://www.isla.unibocconi.it/

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  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  3. Kevin Murdock, 2002. "Intrinsic Motivation and Optimal Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 650-671, Winter.
  4. 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.
  5. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. 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.
  7. Gary Charness, 1996. "Attribution and reciprocity in a simulated labor market: An experimental investigation," Economics Working Papers 283, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1997.
  8. 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.
  9. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-64, May.
  10. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. 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.
  12. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  13. 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.
  14. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2008. "Testing theories of fairness--Intentions matter," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 287-303, January.
  15. 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.
  16. Lindenberg, Siegwart, 2001. "Intrinsic Motivation in a New Light," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 317-42.
  17. 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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