IZA DP No. 5374: Resisting Moral Wiggle Room: How Robust is Reciprocity?
published in: American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2014, 6 (3), 256-264
Several studies have shown that dictator-game giving declines substantially if the dictator can exploit situational "excuses" for not being generous. In this experimental study we investigate if this result extends to more natural social interactions involving reciprocal behavior. We provide the second mover in a reciprocal game with an excuse for not reciprocating, an excuse which has previously been shown to strongly reduce giving in dictator games. We do not find that the availability of the excuse has any effect at all on reciprocal behavior, and conclude that reciprocity is a more stable disposition than dictator game generosity.