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Reciprocity and uncertainty: When do people forgive?

Andres Gago ()

Journal of Economic Psychology, 2021, vol. 84, issue C

Abstract: A sizable proportion of individuals act reciprocally. They punish and reward depending on the (un)kindness of those with whom they interact. In this paper, I explore whether individuals still reciprocate intentions when others lack full control over the consequences of their actions. By means of a dictator game with punishment opportunities, I show that unkind intentions are enough to trigger punishments, irrespectively of the outcome. By contrast, accidents are forgiven. To isolate how uncertainty over the result of an action affects the assessment of intentions, I control for other possible departures from self-profit maximization, such as distributional concerns or efficiency maximization. I find that the former also plays a role in respondents’ behavior.

Keywords: Reciprocity; Uncertainty; Blame; Intentions; Dictator; Punishment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C79 C91 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Working Paper: Reprocity and Uncertainty: When Do People Forgive? (2020) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2021.102362

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