Research suggests that benefiting from someone's voluntary, intentional, costly effort encourages reciprocal prosocial behavior, as well as promoting upstream reciprocity, that is, increases reciprocal actions by the recipient for the benefit of an unrelated third party. The current study examines the role of the identifiability of the benefactor in determining the extent to which people engage in direct and upstream reciprocity. Results of three studies reveal that while an identified benefactor tends to engender greater direct reciprocal reactions than an unidentified one, this strong reaction toward the identified benefactor does not hold to the same extent when upstream reciprocity is considered (regardless of identification of the third party). On the other hand, when the benefactor is unidentified, levels of direct and upstream reciprocity remain similar. Moderated-mediation analysis suggests that ethical commitment associated with the universal norm of reciprocity explains the decrease in prosociality between reactions toward the benefactor himself or herself and toward a third party under the identified condition.
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Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- dictator game
- identifiability effect
- prosocial behavior