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Norm of Reciprocity, Research Paper Example

Pages: 10

Words: 2815

Research Paper

Abstract

It is a common human practice to return favors they have received. This is observed by society as a common practice and it is on this norm that most social activities are in existence. According to psychological studies the act of returning of favor is due to the existence of two factors. They are the self presentation and internalized standards. Another factor that is likely to affect the action of people is the creation of mood. This paper tries to analyze whether the norm of reciprocity exists even when no one will know that the favor has been returned.

Introduction

People are always influenced by social norms, actions of others, mood etc and these factors plays a major role in the behaviour of individuals also. It is a common practice among human beings all over the world to return favors that they have received. This behaviour of people is some thing that is practiced with out any force or rule and is hence known as a norm and this particular norm is known as the norm of reciprocity. People might react positively or negatively to acts of others. According to psychological studies these acts of people are mainly influenced by two factors and they are norm of self presentation and internalized standards. This paper aims to analyze whether the norm of reciprocity applies when no one will know that the favor has been returned.

Literature review

Norm of reciprocity refers to an expectation that one will receive favorable response from another person as returns of benefits for benefits received and response will be either with hostility or indifference to harms. Norm of reciprocity is usually found applied in social life in different forms. Norm of reciprocity is itself a powerful tool of motivation, sustainment, creation and regulation. Through these methods norm of reciprocity regulates the cooperate behaviour of social organizations that are self sustaining and also controls the damages caused to society by unscrupulous (Cozby and Dates, 2012).

It is a common human behaviour to respond positively or negatively to acts of others. For example it is usual to send birthday present to those people who remembered the birthday and had sent gift. It is a common practice among friends to buy lunch to a friend who helped with doing some thing. In all such cases it is the norm of reciprocity that is followed. Thus it can be found that the norm of reciprocity is a social rule that society maintains among other norms and in this kind favors and acts of kindness are returned by people. It is because of this rule that social exchanges takes place in society in a smooth and fair manner. But at times we can also see that the norm is exploited by people who always try to seek unfair advantage.

According to study reports norm of reciprocity has a major role to play in compliance to requests. Norm of reciprocity can be triggered by doing any favor that is unsolicited or small. If a person is able to successfully apply this tactics it is possible to receive a much larger favor from that person than from some one who has not received any favors (Cozby and Bates, 2012).

In most cases experiments of reciprocity norms are carried out in accordance with the procedure Regan (1971) has developed. In Regan’s experiment participants worked as a confederate of a task of art evolution in same room. Two conditions were set for conducting this experiment. In first condition the partner went out of the room during break and came back with a soft drink for real participant and for himself. In second condition though the partner left the room during break he returned with out soft drink. Then on another date partner asked the real participant if he can purchase raffle tickets for the partner. Like it is said in norm of reciprocity real participants purchased who received the favor purchased more tickets than those who did not receive any favor. Further participants attitude towards return of favor was not affected by the frame of mind of partner.

This effect of norm of reciprocity was found to be true and several subsequent researches were able to prove this effect (Myers, 2006). Further there are several examples of the norm in real life also. In real life it is very common for a consumer to experience several matters like free demonstrations of products, testing of samples etc where they find it tough to reciprocate the favor in any ways than by buying the product.

It is understood that this practice is merely a norm and there is no compulsion on any one to follow this norm. There are two reasons for this as identified by researches. One is due to the concern of people as to what other person will think of them if they fail to return the favor. This can be called as self-presentation account and this is a norm that is easy to understand. In usual case those people who violate the norm of reciprocity as considered as ungrateful. It is a common instinct of human beings to enjoy rewards they receive due to their habit of returning favors. This is due to such a mind set that people give birthday gift to those who remembered his birthday and satisfaction is more when they deliver the gift in person.

Second reason behind following of this norm is related to international behaviour standard. As this norm is approved and accepted by larger section of society people consider it as a personal standard which is to be used for measuring or evaluating the behaviour. Thus this behaviour in this concept is an internalized account of social norm, where people receive self satisfaction on doing things that the larger society is considering right and this is the same when they return any favor received. In some cases it is also possible that people who fail to comply with norm of reciprocity is also likely to chastise themselves. It can be seen that neither of these explanations are mutually exclusive and both these situations are likely to be influenced by both these aspects (Cozby and Bates, 2012).

This experiment was conducted with an intention to understand the motives that are underlying the effect of reciprocity. This experiment aims to understand whether the norm of reciprocation is affected by the fact the person who did the favor knew or didn’t knew about the return of favor. In another way this experiment tried to understand whether internalized social norms can motivate reciprocity practices even when motives of self representation are absent.

It is found that only a single study has conducted research in this particular aspect previously and it was conducted by Whatley et al., (1999). Participants were asked to take pledges of per mile charity run with out considering the favor from requestor. That is they have to make pledge if they receive favor and even if they didn’t receive it. Of the participants half were asked to provide their contact details and name on pledge card and another half was not asked to do this. Those who provided contact information were to be contacted by the person who made request to inform them about the amount they are to pay. Evidence for both internalized standards and self – presentation were found by the researcher. Those participants who put their name on pledge card were found to be more likely to make payment and this is in accordance with self presentation. Those participants who received a favor were also morel likely to make payment and this is in accordance with the internalized norms. This was found to be effective for those participants who have not written their name and contact details on the card. The findings of Whatley et al (1999) are found to be consistent with the norm of reciprocation. This is because in his study requester was never present in any condition. Thus the motive of requestor was not established in any of this situation.

In this study requestor was not present in any condition when written request was handed over to participants by experimenter. Pledge cards were put in sealed envelopes by participants and this was took by experimenter who was supposed mail it to charitable agency. Those participants who were asked to provide their name and contact details might have been expecting to receive any kind of information in future regarding amount that was donated. But no condition existed whereby participants thought that they will see the person who made request to them. Thus participants might not have anticipated disapproval or gratitude of participant due to their donation or non donation. Thus it can be seen that motive of self representation is not clear to be operating in the conditions of this particular experiment.

In the experiment that will be conducted a small variation will be made from Regan procedure. This is to make sure that the concerns of internalized social norms and self presentation has separate effect on actions of participants. Half of the participants will be receiving a favor and another half will not. After that they will be asked to act on the request of experimenter. Half of each section will be asked to return the favor in the presence of experimenter and another half will be asked to do that in his absence. If internalized norms have a role to play in reciprocity norms participants will return their favor even when they are asked to do that anonymously. But if participants are returning favor only in the presence of experimenter it can be said that the norm of self presentation plays the crucial role or major role in reciprocity effect.

Hypothesis

Norm of reciprocity applies even when no one will know that the favor has been returned.

Methodology

This study will be conducted at Nova South Eastern University main campus. I will hand over a candy bar to passers by inside university centre. After handing over candy bar I will ask them to vote for a new food style or restaurant to add to university centre. I will give them a ballot paper to fill out and return. Those who have received candy bars will be asked to fix the wrapper of the bar along with the ballot paper when they are returning the ballot paper. This will help to identify the number of persons who has returned ballot paper for they received a favor earlier. With this researcher will understand weather norm of reciprocity applies when no one will know that the favor has been returned.

A ballot will be placed at a specific location and 50% participants will be asked to return the ballot to that ballot box on next day. Remaining 50% will be asked to return their ballot directly to me at a designated location on next day. For giving guidance about dropping the ballot in box or to return to me directly I will flip a coin. If the coin lands on head that person has to return the ballot to me and if the coin lands on tail they will have to drop the ballot in box. The person after this assigned person will be asked to return to the opposite location of previous person. This is to make sure that a random assignment is possible and with this an equal group size can be fixed for each testing condition. T-test will be conducted for analyzing the data. In the t-test there will be one IV containing two levels and one DV.

My IV is whether the participants returned the ballot to me who is the experimenter in person or to a ballot box. If the ballot is returned to the ballot box located at a designated location experimenter will not be aware of the person who is returning ballot and thus the person will be anonymous. Thus in one condition of IV participant will return the ballot in person to experimenter and in another condition participant will drop the ballot in ballot box located in a designated location anonymously. The DV is the proportion of ballots returned.

Discussion

If the previous study result is true, participants who got a candy bar from experimenter is more likely to return the ballot. This is because they have received a favor prior to this request. This behaviour of participants is irrespective of the knowledge of experimenter. That is those persons who received candy bar will either return the ballot to drop box or to experimenter than those who have not received candy bar. The fact whether experimenter is aware of the return of favor is not of importance. If the result is like this it can be understood that internationalized norm plays a major role in peoples decision about returning of favor. Returning favor is considered normally as an act of kindness and this will result in self satisfaction where as failure of it is likely to cause self criticism. Internal standards of this type are sufficient enough to motivate participants of present study to fill the ballot paper and return either to experimenter or to drop box. If majority participants who received candy bar are returning the ballot to experimenter it can be said that self presentation motives contribute to a great extent in the decision of persons about return of favor. But if the candidates who received candy bar are either returning ballot to box or to experimenter it cannot be said that self presentation motive has a major role to play in reciprocity norm. Those who return the ballot with out the cover of candy bar is acting on behalf of internationalized standards and not self presentation.

It is found through previous studies that self presentation plays a major role in returning of favors. In the present experiment it is likely to happen that those participants who returned the ballot in person to experimenter wanted to have a food style or restaurant in the campus genuinely and wanted to know about the reality of this statement. Participants who have not received any favor have retuned the ballot anonymously to ballot box and there is no chance for them to see the experimenter after wards. Hence it cannot be anticipated that their act of returning ballot was for avoiding disproval of experimenter or expression of gratitude. Thus in that case there is no role for self representation or internationalized norms and thus norm of reciprocity do not apply.

It was found in previous researches that creating a positive mood in individuals are likely to increase their helping behaviour. One factor for returning ballot might be the positive mood of participants who received a candy bar that created a positive mood in them. But it is also possible to have argument countering this particular assessment. One is that the participants were asked to return ballots only on next day and not on the same day of receiving candy bar. Any change of mood that occurred due to receiving a candy will change in a day and will not last for that much time. Thus mood factor has no effect on reciprocity character of participants in present study.

Another factor that can be considered to have a role in reciprocity factor in present study is the evolutionary interpretation by Wilson and Sober (as cited in DeWall, 2013). According to this interpretation there is an inherited tendency in human beings to return any favors received and it is on this tendency that the society is surviving. It is the same reason that motivates people to help each other and there are several cases when the norm of reciprocity has nothing to do with an action of an individual. It can be found that this factor of inheritance has played a role in study that will be conducted. Those people who return the ballot paper after receiving candy bar might be performing that act due to their inherited character and might not be due to internationalized standards or self presentation. Even if self presentation or internationalized standards are absent in such a situation inherited characters might act and make the people perform an act that others might feel as an act of reciprocity. With this experiment it will be able to establish that people will perform right acts due to various factors like self representation, internationalized standards or inherited character with out any concern for approval or disapproval of others.

References

Cozby, P. C., & Bates, S. C. (2012). Methods in behavioral research (11th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co.

DeWall, C. N. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Social Exclusion. New York: Oxford University Press.

Myers, D. G. (2006). Social Psychology. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Education.

Regan, D. T. (1971). Effects of a favor and liking on compliance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology , 627–639.

Whatley, M. A., Webster, J. M., Smith, R. H., & Rhodes, A. (1999). The effect of a favor on public and private compliance: How internalized is the norm of reciprocity? Basic and Applied Social Psychology , 251–259.

 

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