On Blame-Freeness and Reciprocity: An Experimental Study

Universidad del Rosario Faculty of Economics Working Paper No. 85

40 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2010

See all articles by Mariana Blanco

Mariana Blanco

Universidad del Rosario

Bogaçhan Çelen

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics

Andrew Schotter

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 28, 2010

Abstract

The theory of reciprocity is predicated on the assumption that people are willing to reward nice or kind acts and to punish unkind ones. This assumption raises the question as to how to define kindness. In this paper we offer a new definition of kindness that we call “blame-freeness.” Put most simply, blame-freeness states that in judging whether player i has been kind or unkind to player j in a social situation, player j would have to put himself in the strategic position of player i, while retaining his preferences, and ask if he would have acted in a manner that was worse than i did under identical circumstances. If j would have acted in a more unkind manner than i acted, then we say that j does not blame i for his behavior. If, however, j would have been nicer than i was, then we say that “j blames i” for his actions (i’s actions were blameworthy). We consider this notion a natural, intuitive and empirically relevant way to explain the motives of people engaged in reciprocal behavior. After developing the conceptual framework, we then test this concept in a laboratory experiment involving tournaments and find significant support for the theory.

Keywords: Altruism, Blame, Reciprocity

JEL Classification: A13, C72, D63

Suggested Citation

Blanco, Mariana and Çelen, Bogaçhan and Schotter, Andrew, On Blame-Freeness and Reciprocity: An Experimental Study (June 28, 2010). Universidad del Rosario Faculty of Economics Working Paper No. 85, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1703546 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1703546

Mariana Blanco (Contact Author)

Universidad del Rosario ( email )

Bogota
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://mbnet26.googlepages.com/home

Bogaçhan Çelen

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Andrew Schotter

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10011
United States
212-998-8909 (Phone)
212-995-4186 (Fax)

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