SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance
Sandra Dahlman, Pontus Ljungqvist and Magnus Johannesson
Reciprocity in young children
Abstract: Reciprocal behavior, the rewarding of kind acts and the
punishment of unkind acts, is relatively well established among adults. We
test if reciprocal behavior exists already among children 3-8 years old.
Three simple anonymous allocation games are conducted with 242 children. In
a first stage, half of the children decide whether to give a bag of raisin
to another anonymous child or not. The three games differ in terms of the
cost of giving and the relative difference in payoffs. In a second stage
the roles are reversed between the two children to test for reciprocal
behavior. We find reciprocal behavior in all three games with highly
significant effects for two of the three games. Furthermore, the degree of
reciprocity tends to increase with age. The effect of reciprocity is not
significant among 3-5 year old children, whereas the effect is highly
significant in all three games for 6-8 year olds.
Keywords: Reciprocity; prosociality; children; experiments; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: C90; D64; J13; (follow links to similar papers)
28 pages, September 26, 2007
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