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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
Contact details of provider: Postal: 94030 Passau
Phone: ++49 (0)851 509 0
Fax: ++49 (0)851 509 1005
Web page: http://www.wiwi.uni-passau.de/index.php?L=2

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  1. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  2. James C. Cox & Daniel Friedman & Steven Gjerstad, 2006. "A Tractable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-05, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  3. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  6. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  7. 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.
  8. Zephyr, 2010. "The city," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1-2), pages 154-155, February.
  9. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  11. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Gary Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 2005. "A stress test of fairness measures in models of social utility," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 957-982, 06.
  13. Brandts, Jordi & Sola, Carles, 2001. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 138-157, August.
  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. 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.
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