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Reciprocity Research and Its Implications for the Negotiation Process

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While social scientists have discussed the issue of reciprocation for many years, much of current behavioral research stems from Robert Axelrod's computer simulations of behavioral strategies in prisoner's dilemma games. Axelrod showed that a tit-for-tat strategy – cooperate on the first trial, and thereafter behave as your opponent did on the previous trial – earned a higher average payoff than any other tested strategy. We review both the computer simulation and empirical research that followed his studies. We suggest that it would be fruitful to extend this research to the negotiation paradigm, for two reasons: (1) many of the findings have direct bearing on elements of the negotiation process, and (2) there are unique aspects of the negotiation process that pose interesting questions for social dilemma research.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Psychology, Washington State University, PO Box 644820, Pullman, WA 99164 USA; 2: Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61801, USA


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