Reciprocity Norm
The reciprocity norm is a social norm that dictates that people should respond to kind gestures with similar kindness, and vice versa. It is the expectation that when someone does a favor or initiates a positive action towards another person, the recipient of that favor will feel obligated to return the favor or act in a similarly positive manner.
Key Features of the Reciprocity Norm
  • Unspoken Expectation: The reciprocity norm is often implicitly understood and followed in various social interactions and relationships.
  • Mutual Obligation: It creates a sense of mutual obligation among individuals, where receiving a favor or kind gesture is often perceived as a debt that needs to be repaid.
  • Reciprocal Behavior: The norm encourages individuals to reciprocate actions, fostering a cycle of positive behavior in social contexts.
  • Equitable Exchange: The norm is usually upheld when the return favor is perceived to be of similar value or significance to the initial act.
Examples of the Reciprocity Norm

1. Gift Giving: During holidays or special occasions, it is common for individuals to exchange gifts. The expectation is that receiving a gift from someone creates an obligation to reciprocate with a gift of similar value.

2. Invitations: When someone invites another person to a social event or gathering, the expectation is that the invitee should repay the gesture by inviting the host to a similar event in the future.

3. Helping Behavior: If someone goes out of their way to assist another person, the norm suggests that the recipient should be inclined to offer help or support when the opportunity arises.

Importance of the Reciprocity Norm
The reciprocity norm plays a vital role in maintaining social harmony and building trust among individuals. It fosters a sense of fairness, contributes to the establishment of social norms, and promotes positive social interactions. By adhering to the norm, individuals contribute to the creation of a supportive and cooperative social environment.