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In social psychology, reciprocity is a social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions.


As a social construct, reciprocity means that in response to friendly actions, people are frequently much nicer and much more cooperative than predicted by the self-interest model; conversely, in response to hostile actions they are frequently much more nasty and even brutal.

Reciprocity makes it possible to build continuing relationships and exchanges.

fake ones.. no..?

marsh exchange law et al

Fukiyama states that “If the institutions of democracy and capitalism are to work properly, they must coexist within certain premodern cultural habits that ensure their proper functioning” (p.11).


He goes on to say “Law, contract, and economic rationality and prosperity…. must as well be leavened with reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust….

double puke

obligation et al

so counter to trust

The latter are not anachronisms in a modern society but rather the sine qua non of the latter’s success” (p.11) According to the sociologist Alvin Gouldner (1960), this norm is nearly universal, and only a few members of society—the very young, the sick, or the old—are exempt from it. 


Reciprocal actions differ from altruistic actions in that reciprocal actions only follow from others’ initial actions, while altruism is the unconditional act of social gift-giving without any hope or expectation of future positive responses. Some distinguish between ideal altruism (*giving with no expectation of future reward) and reciprocal altruism (giving with limited expectation or the potential for expectation of future reward). For more information on this idea, see altruism or altruism (ethics).

i wonder about any *gift ness.. makes me think of teaching math.. as in.. answering questions no one is asking.. and of schooling the world.. as in .. assuming you know what’s best for others.. and destroying/compromising them in the process


Reciprocity dates as far back as the time of Hammurabi (c. 1792–1750 BC). Hammurabi’s code, a collection of 282 laws and standards, lists crimes and their various punishments as well as guidelines for citizens’ conduct. The code was formalized example that demanded the individual act in terms of the public interest. The “eye for an eye” principles in which the laws were written mirror the idea of direct reciprocity.


tit for tat.. begs we measure everything.. which.. kills everything.. not even going into the whole.. cast first stone ness


Reciprocity was also a cornerstone of ancient Greece. In Homeric Greece, citizens relied on reciprocity as a form of transaction as there was no formal system of government or trade. In Homer’s Iliad, he illustrates several instances of reciprocal transactions in the form of gift giving.


again – marsh exchange law et al

For example, in Book VI of the Iliad, Glaucus and Diomedes exchange armor when they discover that their grandfathers were friends. However, there were times when direct reciprocity was not possible, specifically in times of great need when a citizen had nothing to give for repayment. Thus, deferred reciprocity was also prevalent in Greek culture at this time. Deferred reciprocity refers to giving a person gifts or favors with the understanding that they will repay this favor at another time when the initial giver is in great need. This form of reciprocity was used extensively by travelers, particularly in the Odyssey. Odysseus often had to rely on the kindness of human strangers and other mythological creatures to secure resources along his journey.

In the classical Greek polis, large-scale projects such as construction of temples, building of warships and financing of choruses were carried out as gifts to individual donors. In Rome, wealthy elite were linked with their dependents in a cycle of reciprocal gift giving. As these examples suggest, reciprocity enjoyed a cultural prestige among ancient aristocracies for whom it was advantageous.

again.. marsh exchange law et al

An adaptive mechanism

Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin attribute the very nature of humans to reciprocity. They claim humans survived because our ancestors learned to share goods and services “in an honored network of obligation”.


Thus, the idea that humans are indebted to repay gifts and favors is a unique aspect of human culture. Cultural anthropologists support this idea in what they call the “web of indebtedness” where reciprocity is viewed as an adaptive mechanism to enhance survival. Within this approach, reciprocity creates an interdependent environment where labor is divided so that humans may be more efficient.

puke.. i see our gift ness as a disturbance

For example, if one member of the group cares for the children while another member hunts for food for the group, each member has provided a service and received one in return. Each member can devote more time and attention to his or her allotted task and the whole group benefits. This meant that individuals could give away resources without actually giving them away.

exactly.. no need for gift ness or reciprocity ness or obligation ness

Through the rule of reciprocity, *sophisticated systems of aid and trade were possible bringing immense benefits to the societies that utilized them. Given the benefits of reciprocity at the societal level, it is **not surprising that the norm has persisted and dictates our present cognition and behavior.

messed up

no need for reciprocity & *sophisticated systems of aid and trade..

the **surprising thing is that we all are buying into this myth/disturbance.. as deadly as it is

The power of reciprocity

Reciprocity is not only a strong determining factor of human behavior; it is a powerful method for gaining one’s compliance with a request.

exactly.. all about compliance.. power.. not freedom.. so we have no idea what our human energy potential is..

The rule of reciprocity has the power to trigger feelings of indebtedness even when faced with an uninvited favor and irrespective of liking the person who executed the favor. 

exactly.. and why i’m adding these pages today: reciprocity; gift ness; gift econ

debt ness


Thus, individuals who we might not even like have the power to greatly increase our chances of doing them a favor simply by providing us with a small gift or favor prior to their request. Furthermore, we are obliged to receive these gifts and favors which reduces our ability to choose to whom we wish to be indebted.

energy suck.. distraction.. disturbance.. not us


Politics is another area where the power of reciprocity is evident.


Positive and negative reciprocity

Positive reciprocity occurs when an action committed by one individual that has a positive effect on someone else is returned with an action that has an approximately equal positive effect.

still not positive.. it’s comprising us.. by measuring us

For example, if someone takes care of another person’s dog, the person who received this favor should then return this action with another favor such as with a small gift. However, the reciprocated action should be approximately equal to the first action in terms of positive value, otherwise this can result in an uncomfortable social situation.

see.. that’s crap

If someone takes care of another person’s dog and that person returns the favor by buying that individual a car, the reciprocated gift is inappropriate because it does not equal the initial gesture. Individuals expect actions to be reciprocated by actions that are approximately equal in value.

One example of positive reciprocity is that waitresses who smile broadly receive more tips than waitresses who present a minimal smile. Also, free samples are not merely opportunities to taste a product but rather invitations to engage in the rule of reciprocity. Many people find it difficult to accept the free sample and walk away. Instead, they buy some of the product even when they did not find it that enjoyable.

wanting to delete so much of this.. but it’s so ridiculous.. we’re so messed up

Negative reciprocity occurs when an action that has a negative effect on someone is returned with an action that has an approximately equal negative effect.

all of them are negative.. the premise is a compromise


In cultural anthropology, negative reciprocity refers to an attempt to get something for nothing. It is often referred to as “bartering” or “haggling” (see reciprocity (cultural anthropology) for more information).


See also


gift ness



marsh exchange law

we have to get back to our undisturbed ecosystem