This week, I leaned something particularly intriguing called…
Reciprocity

My discovery of this intriguing idea occurred while studying for…
PGS350- Social Psychology

I found this idea intriguing because…
Reciprocity is a social norm that obligates people to give back the type of behavior they have received (Neuberg).  This idea is embedded into basic human psychology based on our evolutionary history as a people.  In the past, reciprocity was applicable to the exchange of food, water, tools, basic things that people needed to survive.  As humans have developed society to make these things much easier to acquire, this idea has remained embedded in our psychology.  So, while in the past the idea was “if you help me survive, I will help you survive,” it has evolved into “if you do me a favor today, you have the right to expect a favor from me tomorrow.”  This psychological principle has been evaluated through many studies.  One example is a study in which participants were unknowingly offered a Coke from a “fellow participant” of the study (really a confederate).  The generous individual leaves the room for a couple of minutes and returns with two bottles of Coke, claiming one for himself and offering up the other to the individual who is actually being studied.  After the experiment (as far as the first participant knows) is over, the confederate approaches them in the hallway, asking them to buy raffle tickets to support their charity.  As it turns out, those participants that were offered the Coke, even when they didn’t particularly want it, were much more likely to buy the raffle tickets from the confederate.  When we receive an act of kindness, a favor, or a service, we feel psychologically obligated to reciprocate the act of kindness in some way.  A second example of this is when a homeless person approaches you on the street.  You are much more likely to offer up your change to an individual that offers you, say, a flower, than to an individual who simply asks for money.  “Anyone who violates the norm by taking without giving in return invites social disapproval and risks the relationship” (Neuberg).  The principle of reciprocity generally works to everyone’s advantage, and is therefore instilled in members of societies from early childhood.

I would label this “intriguing idea” as a theoryconceptmethod, or other…
I would label this “intriguing idea” as a theory.  As defined by dictionary.com, a theory is a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and a prediction for a class of phenomena.  This idea of reciprocity was presented to me as a principle and would also fit the criteria of a theory.

I can think of at least three ways I can apply this intriguing idea…
As a basic psychological principle, this idea is already embedded into my mind and used on a daily basis both consciously and unconsciously.  However, knowing the studies that have been done and the manipulative tactics people use that go along with this principle–window washers, homeless people with flowers, charities that send me a nickel and ask me for a dollar in return–will allow me to be more conscious of my choices in who I actually DO want to support and help out.  Rather than being manipulated in my decision, I can donate my time, energy, and money to the people and charities that I feel are ACTUALLY important.  Additionally, being educated on this principle will help me to do the socially acceptable thing.  If someone helps me out and lets me borrow their notes, I’ll do the same when they need it.  If someone spots me for a meal, I will spot them back, both because it’s the right thing to do, and the socially and psychologically acceptable thing to do.  Finally, if I ever for some reason need to spange money from passers-by, I now know the most effective way to do this successfully!  Talk about an important life lesson…

This intriguing idea is surprisingly similar to something I learned in another class, which was…
In my philosophy class (PHI105) we recently learned a quote by Confucius.  Similar to Christianity’s “Golden Rule,” Confucius states “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”  This idea is, in some ways, parallel to the idea of reciprocity.  While Confucius is saying do no harm to others, especially that which you wish others would refrain from doing to you, reciprocity is almost the opposite.  It states that psychologically, if we do a favor for someone, that person should expect that they owe us something in return.  While these ideas explore different ends of the situation, they are still very similar thought processes.

If this idea were a song, it would be…
90’s flashback!  We’ve got the dreamer’s disease.

If this idea were a food, it would be…
If this idea was a food, it would be fondue.  It’s something that is generally shared between two or more people.  I dip my bread in your cheese, you dip your strawberry in my chocolate.  Fondue is all about reciprocity!

If someone wanted to learn more about this idea, they could read any of the following books or articles…
My PGS350 Textbook, a blog post about reciprocity, an article influnced by Professor Cialdini.

Kenrick, Douglas, Steven Neuberg, and Robert Cialdini. Social Psychology Goals in Interaction. 5th. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. 117. Print.

Neuberg, Steven . “Social Influence: Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience.” 2011. Print.

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