Toward an understanding of the relative strengths of positive and negative reciprocity
NBER Working Paper No. 16547
A stylized fact is that agents respond more acutely to negative than positive stimuli. Such findings have generated insights on mechanism-design, have been featured prominently in policymaking, and more generally have led to discussions of whether preferences are defined over consumption levels or changes in consumption. This study reconsiders this stylized fact. In doing so, it provides insights into an important domain wherein positive stimuli induce a greater response than negative stimuli: a principal-agent game with reputational considerations and with the agent on the market's short end. This common setting represents an important feature of labor markets with involuntary unemployment.
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