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On the costs of kindness: An experimental investigation of guilty minds and negative reciprocity

  • Schubert, Manuel
  • Graf Lambsdorff, Johann

Psychology has inspired economics to recognize intentions in addition to outcomes as being relevant for utility and behavior. Reciprocal behavior, in particular, has been related to the kindness of chosen actions and how kindness can be derived from the benefits obtained in unchosen alternatives. This study shows that a richer understanding of kindness is required. We carry out ultimatum games with a reduced space of strategies and observe that subjects refrain from negative reciprocity (rejecting proposals) if an unchosen alternative was costly to the proposer. Second, we find proposers to anticipate this behavior. Not only the benefits are relevant for assessments of kindness, the costs of kindness matter as well.

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Paper provided by University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics in its series Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe with number V-64-12.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:upadvr:v6412
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  1. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Schubert, Manuel, 2012. "Deeds rather than omissions: How intended consequences provoke negative reciprocity," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-65-12, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
  3. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  6. Lambsdorff, Johann Graf & Frank, Björn, 2011. "Corrupt reciprocity - Experimental evidence on a men's game," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 116-125, June.
  7. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  8. Gary E. Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "A stress test of fairness measures in models of social utility," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-29, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  9. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Gjerstad, Steven, 2007. "A tractable model of reciprocity and fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-45, April.
  11. Brandts, J. & Sola, C., 1998. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 425.98, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  12. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  13. Zephyr, 2010. "The city," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1-2), pages 154-155, February.
  14. Sutter, Matthias, 2007. "Outcomes versus intentions: On the nature of fair behavior and its development with age," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 69-78, January.
  15. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
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