Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission
James C. Cox
Georgia State University - Department of Economics
University of Canterbury - New Zealand Experimental Economics Laboratory
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)
February 29, 2012
Both the law and culture make a central distinction between acts of commission that overturn the status quo and acts of omission that uphold it. In everyday life acts of commission often elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in two experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories, Axiom R (for reciprocity) and Axiom S (for status quo). We find support for this theory in both experiments.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: Experimental economics, reciprocity, revealed altruism, acts of commission, acts of omission, other-regarding preferences, status quo
JEL Classification: C70, C91working papers series
Date posted: December 31, 2011 ; Last revised: March 3, 2012
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