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A theory of reciprocity. (English) Zbl 1125.91023
Summary: People are reciprocal if they reward kind actions and punish unkind ones. In this paper we present a formal theory of reciprocity. It takes into account that people evaluate the kindness of an action not only by its consequences but also by its underlying intention. The theory is in line with the relevant stylized facts of a wide range of experimental games, such as the ultimatum game, the gift-exchange game, a reduced best-shot game, the dictator game, the prisoner’s dilemma, and public goods games. Furthermore, it predicts that identical consequences trigger different reciprocal responses in different environments. Finally, the theory explains why outcomes tend to be fair in bilateral interactions whereas extremely unfair distributions may arise in competitive markets.

91A30Utility theory for games
91A90Experimental studies in game theory
91B08Individual preferences
Full Text: DOI
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