IZA DP No. 1347: Social Reciprocity
We define social reciprocity as the act of demonstrating one's disapproval, at some personal cost, for the violation of widely-held norms (e.g., don't free ride). Social reciprocity differs from standard notions of reciprocity because social reciprocators intervene whenever a norm is violated and do not condition intervention on potential future payoffs, revenge, or altruism. Instead, we posit that social reciprocity is a triggered normative response. Our experiment confirms the existence of social reciprocity and demonstrates that more socially efficient outcomes arise when reciprocity can be expressed socially. To provide theoretical foundations for social reciprocity, we show that generalized punishment norms survive in one of the two stable equilibria of an evolutionary game with selection drift.