Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission
41 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2011 Last revised: 3 Mar 2012
Date Written: 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.
Keywords: Experimental economics, reciprocity, revealed altruism, acts of commission, acts of omission, other-regarding preferences, status quo
JEL Classification: C70, C91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation