Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission
Intent to help or harm is revealed more clearly by acts of commission that overturn the status quo than by acts of omission that uphold it. Both the law and culture make a central distinction between the two types of acts. Acts of commission elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in two experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories, Axiom R (for reciprocity) and Axiom S (for status quo). We find support for this theory in both experiments.