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Types of Reciprocity. Cooperation Dynamics

Any exchanges between people can be handled in three ways. The first type is generalized reciprocity, which is mostly expressed in closely related societies. The general principle of this type is “help anyone if helped by someone” (Stojkoski et al., 2018). In my case, my parents are willing to help me financially without the obligation to return the money (Scheve & Stasavage, 2016). Vice versa, I never ask for the money, which I loan to my parents back, thus, showcasing the deep familial trust.

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The second type is balanced reciprocity, which manifests in the equal value of the exchange. In essence, it means that a person receiving aid, service, or a product returns the giver something of the same value (Zollo et al., 2017). Personally, I encounter this type is non-official selling, where there are no taxes are imposed. The lack of official control allows me to purchase goods, such as food ingredients, from my acquaintances at a price, which corresponds to their real value.

The third type is negative reciprocity, where one side receives considerably more benefits. In general, negativity results from the unfair exchange, which leaves the other side unsatisfied (Shaw et al., 2019). In my opinion, many universities set excessively high admission fees, thus gaining more than they actually offer in return. Overall, I notice that the less common something, the more likely it to be overpriced.

Altogether, it should be evident that all exchanges are logical in their nature. The lack of trust and the deficit of substitutes predetermines the adoption of negative reciprocity. When the giver’s and the receiver’s conditions are equal, there is a basis for balanced reciprocity. If trust is implied and relationships are taken for granted, positive reciprocity takes root. Combined together, they showcase the variety of human interactions.


Scheve, K., & Stasavage, D. (2016). Taxing the rich: A history of fiscal fairness in the United States and Europe. Princeton University Press, 19(9). Web.

Shaw, A., Barakzai, A., & Keysar, B. (2019). When and why people evaluate negative reciprocity as more fair than positive reciprocity. Cognitive Science, 43(8), 1-35. Web.

Stojkoski, V., Utkovski, Z., Basnarkov, L., & Kocarev, L. (2018). Cooperation dynamics of generalized reciprocity in state-based social dilemmas. Physical Review E, 97(5), 1-29.

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Zollo, L., Faldetta, G., Pellegrini, M. M., & Ciappei, C. (2017). Reciprocity and gift-giving logic in NPOs. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 32(7), 513-526. Web.

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