Jump to content

Psychology of Misjudgment #9. Reciprocation Tendency


Recommended Posts

9. Reciprocation Tendency


"The human tendency of humans to reciprocate both favors and disfavors has long been noticed as it is in apes, monkeys, dogs, and many less cognitively gifted animals. The tendency facilitates group cooperation for the benefit of members. In this respect, it mimics much genetic programming of the social insects. We see the extreme power of the tendency to reciprocate disfavors in some wars, where it increases hatred to a level causing very brutal conduct…"


"Reciprocity Tendency subtly causes many extreme and dangerous consequences, not just on rare occasions but pretty much all the time.


Thanks to the Kantian fairness tendency, we tend to return favors. But that reciprocation can be manipulated so that someone performs “favors” they wouldn’t normally agree to do. Munger gives an example by Robert Cialdini who asked people to volunteer for a huge favor that no one would agree to (babysit troublemakers for two years), only to concede to a smaller, but still ridiculous request (take troublemakers to the zoo).


The fact that people can be easily manipulated to do something they never would do in the first place, should be troubling. Marketing techniques and negotiations are two areas to watch for this.


One solution is to get really good at saying, “No!” Another solution is to stop and think about what you’re agreeing to — even if it takes hours — before deciding."



When you start getting stuff for free from a business you should be thinking about reciprocation tendency.  Free coffee at the Car dealer, Free tickets from the Time share tour, free lunch for some investment program or just an individual manipulating you.   


And one does not (generally) want to be reciprocating negatives from others.  Hatred brings more hatred and anger, etc.    I think the philosophers code is to return benefits for harm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...