Norm of reciprocity  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The norm of reciprocity is the expectation that people will respond favorably to each other by returning benefits for benefits, and responding with either indifference or hostility to harms. The social norm of reciprocity often takes different forms in different areas of social life, or in different societies. All of them, however, are distinct from related ideas such as gratitude, the Golden Rule, or mutual goodwill. See Reciprocity (social and political philosophy) for an analysis of the concepts involved.

An underlying norm of reciprocity is by itself a powerful engine for motivating, creating, sustaining, and regulating the cooperative behavior required for self-sustaining social organizations, as well as for controlling the damage done by the unscrupulous. See the discussions in tit for tat and Reciprocity (social psychology). The power and ubiquity of the norm of reciprocity can be used against the unwary, however, and is the basis for the success of many malicious confidence games. Minor, usually less malicious examples are techniques used in advertising and other propaganda whereby a small gift of some kind is proffered with the expectation of producing a desire on the part of the recipient to reciprocate in some way, for example by purchasing a product, making a donation, or becoming more receptive to a line of argument. These minor examples include gifts of stickers and pens distributed by charities and flowers handed out by members of the Hare Krishna group.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Norm of reciprocity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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