Reciprocity, Equality

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Afourth large category of motives is related to psychological expectations

of reciprocity and equality. The underlying idea is that favors have to be

reciprocated with equivalent value: I will give you something, because I

expect that you will return my gift in due time or when necessary (for

instance, in the case of help). Most of the reported motives are of this

mixed type: there is apr opensity to give, but before doing so an inner

calculus is made about the respective participants’ position on the “debtbalance”

(Schwartz 1967). Feelings of being morally obliged to return a

gift and not purely altruistic motives are the main psychological impetus

to reciprocal giving. A deeply felt need to render a service to another

person is lacking here; equality is the moral criterion: “I looked after

their children by way of compensation: my brother-in-law helped me

with my doctoral thesis. More of a compensation than a real joy, yes.”

Another respondent went doing odd jobs for friends, although he did

not like it in the least: “It is stupid work. I did my own home not so long

ago, and I still am heartily sick of it. But those are the things friends are

expected to do for each other, mutually.”