E. van den Broek
- Personal experience and reputation interact in human decisions to help reciprocally.
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
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- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
There is ample evidence that human cooperative behaviour towards other individuals is often conditioned on information about previous interactions. This information derives both from personal experience (direct reciprocity) and from experience of others (i.e. reputation; indirect reciprocity).
Direct and indirect reciprocity have been studied separately, but humans often have access to both types of information. Here, we experimentally investigate information use in a repeated helping game. When acting as donor, subjects can condition their decisions to help recipients with both
types of information at a small cost to access such information. We find that information from direct interactions weighs more heavily in decisions to help, and participants tend to react less forgivingly to negative personal experience than to negative reputation. Moreover, effects of personal experience and reputation interact in decisions to help. If a recipient’s reputation is positive, the personal experience of the donor has a weak effect on the decision to help, and vice versa. Yet if the two types of information indicate conflicting signatures of helpfulness, most decisions to help follow personal experience. To understand the roles of direct and indirect reciprocity in human cooperation, they should be studied in concert, not in isolation.
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