When The Context Backfires: Experimental Evidence On Reciprocity
Journal Of Behavioral Economics For Policy
In a randomized field experiment in Ecuador, we tested whether triggering the norm of reciprocity increases participation in a business training program. The sample included 793 microentrepreneurs in the provinces of Pichincha and Guayas in Ecuador who were randomly assigned to either receive or not receive a premium chocolate with their invitation to participate. Bank officers personally delivered the invitations/chocolate gift. Surprisingly, we find a negative and significant effect of 8.3 percentage points of the chocolate gift on participation rates. We argue that an unexpected, temporary change in the context triggered a negative response from the entrepreneurs to the gift, which changed the direction of the expected result; thus, the intervention induced negative rather than positive reciprocity.
bbbehavioral economics, randomized experiment, field experiment, reciprocity
I. Arráiz, Syon Bhanot, and C. Calero.
"When The Context Backfires: Experimental Evidence On Reciprocity".
Journal Of Behavioral Economics For Policy.