What Is Reciprocity? Meaning Explained With Examples

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what is reciprocity

Have you ever wondered what is reciprocity in detail? We keep hearing this term now and then but barely think about the broader aspects of this term. We have always heard from our elders that you should share your things with others. It helps us in thriving social relationships that can be mutually beneficial. This is how reciprocity works. It evokes an obligation to return the favor when someone does something for you. The theory of reciprocity is very extensive. However, if you want to understand what is reciprocity, reading this post until the end can help you. 

Definition Of Reciprocity

Reciprocity is defined as the process of exchanging things with the other that will reciprocate mutual benefits from the other end. According to the rule of reciprocity, which is also referred to as the norms of reciprocity, if someone does something for you, you should feel the obligation to return the deed. Besides, it is also an important instrument for socialization and helps in maintaining sustainable social bonds. Furthermore, it also plays a powerful role in persuading others to adopt a new belief or behavior. Some people have their nature to reciprocate the favor; whereas, some develop it with their life experiences. 

Definition of reciprocity

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Types Of Reciprocity

Now that you know what is reciprocity, let’s have a look at its three major types: 

1: Generalized Reciprocity

Generalized Reciprocity is related to altruism and can be seen between families or friends. When you do something for your parents, siblings, or friends, you do not expect anything in return from them. However, you assume that they will help you in the hour of need. The same goes with friends or the people who are close to you. 

2: Balanced Reciprocity

This is the type of reciprocity wherein people calculate the value of the exchange and expect the return of the favour in a definite interval of time. You can exchange your skills or a tangible item, in return for which you can get something considered of equal value. In this type, there should be a balance in the exchange value. 

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3: Negative Reciprocity

In this form of reciprocity, one party involved in the exchange expects more than the other. Contrarily, the other party gets lesser value in the exchange process. To understand this type, you can take the example of the forced sale of an item. When someone is in dire need of selling an item, the buyer of that item can get it for a lesser value. This imbalance form of exchange is known as negative reciprocity. 

Application Of The Reciprocity

Reciprocity is a means of socialization; however, it is widely applied in the field of marketing. The experts derive a broad range of marketing strategies out of it in order to get some desired outcomes. It is used to persuade customers to make a purchase. Some implementations are direct in the form of coupons, sales, and special discounts. 

On the other hand, some are deliberate and are based on human psychology. They are hard to determine but do their work silently. Distributing freebies to prospective customers with the expectation that they will purchase in the future is an intricate application of reciprocity. Offering promotional content along with information can also be an example of this form.  

Application of reciprocity

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Efficacy Of The Process

It is obvious to think if the application of the strategies based on reciprocity is effective or not. To understand this, you can take an example of yourself. If someone does a favor, you feel grateful and think that you should return the favor. The concept of reciprocity works in the same manner. By doing so, you not only ensure that the favour is returned, but you also try to maintain a lasting relationship with the person or organization that can be propitious to you in some manner. This is a proven fact that showing trust and making social bonds have helped humans to come a long way in the series of evolution. It works with the same effectiveness when it comes to persuading someone in a well-thought-out way. 


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How Does It Help In Persuasion? 

As you understand the concept, let’s check how to use reciprocity in persuading someone in order to achieve the desired result. There are a number of techniques that marketers use to get propitious outcomes. For instance, you would like to buy from a shop where the sellers are humble and polite. They give you respect, which evokes a feeling to reciprocate this by purchasing from them. 

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An intricate form of persuasion includes giving freebies to potential customers. When they get something they don’t expect, it evokes the feeling to reciprocate by purchasing the products or availing of the services. For instance, if you get an accessory free along with a digital gadget, you might think of it as a favour, and you would want to return it. 

Reciprocity for persuasion

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How To Manage Reciprocity? 

When you are aware of what is reciprocity, you think it is a good thing that allows you to make a sustainable social relationship that is mutually beneficial too. However, you need to understand if manipulation is involved in it. If it is the case, you need to act wisely. 

For instance, it is not always necessary to return the favor of the same value, which demands pushing your limits. If you are feeling a strong urge to return a favour that is hard to afford, you should give it some time. After some time, this urge lowers itself. 

Sometimes, the value of the freebie is so less compared to the product. The expected return is too high for a given offer or freebie. It is not always necessary to purchase something of high value. It will cause negative reciprocity for you. 

Management of reciprocity

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Final Words!

Reading this post until the end can help you in understanding what is reciprocity. By mastering the art of reciprocity, you can maintain a good social relationship, be it with your family, friends, or professional colleagues. Besides, by remaining watchful, you can protect yourself from negative reciprocity. Hope you like this post. For more interesting posts, you can visit our blog section. 


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what is reciprocity