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The Effect of a Reciprocal Decision Rule on Decisions for Another Person NICHD

Kogan, Nathan; Teger, Allan I.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Behavior Patterns, Decision Making, Responsibility, Risk


Subjects made decisions on a gambling task where the outcome would affect their own payoff or the payoff of another person. For the latter, decisions were made reciprocally or nonreciprocally, and for a friend or a stranger. Decisions for others were significantly more cautious when the subject believed that the other person was making reciprocal choices which would affect the subject's payoff than where no reciprocity was involved. Degree of friendship with the other person had no effect on the level of caution chosen for him. Subjects deciding for self more closely resembled subjects in the nonreciprocal than in the reciprocal condition in terms of chosen risk levels, but overall differences were of relatively small magnitude. The enhanced caution in the reciprocal relative to nonreciprocal condition was attributed to a desire to insure at least a modest payoff for another who might benefit the self. It is conjectured that caution in such circumstances serves the function of guilt avoidance. (19pp.)

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