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Understanding reciprocity

Rajiv Sethi () and E. Somanathan

Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers from Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India

Abstract: This paper surveys the evolutionary game theoretic literature on reciprocity in human interactions, dealing both with long-term relationships and with sporadic interactions. Four basic themes, repetition, commitment, assortation, and parochialism, appear repeatedly throughout the literature. Repetition can give rise to the evolution of behavior that exhibits reciprocity-like features but a vast array of other behaviors are also stable. In sporadic interactions, reciprocity can be stable if the propensity to punish selfish actions can induce opportunists to cooperate, if reciprocators themselves behave opportunistically when they expect others to do so, or if matching is sufficiently assortative.

Keywords: Reciprocity; Evolution; Assortation; Commitment; Parochialism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 D62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 37 pages
Date: 2002
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