David A. Kenny
April 1, 2021

For reciprocity, pages 131-135 in Chapter 5 of Interpersonal Perception: The Foundation of Social Relations Relationships and for assumed reciprocity, pages 227-230 of Chapter 8.

For reciprocity, if person A sees B one way, does B see A the same way? Using Laing notation, it is symbolized as A(B) = B(A). Using the Social Relations Model, there are two forms of reciprocity: generalized and dyadic reciprocity. Generalized reciprocity implies a correlation between perceiver and target effects. So if A sees others as friendly, is A seen as friendly? Dyadic reciprocity implies a correlation between relationship effects. So if A sees B as especially friendly, does B see A as especially friendly? Dyadic reciprocity is closer to what we usually mean by the term reciprocity. Very often reciprocity has a temporal meaning: A smiles at B, and then B smiles at A. Reciprocity here does not have that meaning.

For assumed reciprocity, if perceiver A sees B one way, does A think that B sees him or her the same way.
Using Laing notation, it is symbolized as A(B) = A(B(A)). Using the Social Relations Model, there are three forms of reciprocity: generalized and dyadic reciprocity. Perceiver assumed reciprocity implies a correlation between how a person sees others in general and how the person thinks that others see him or her in general. Generalized assumed reciprocity implies a correlation between the target effect in other perceptions and themeta-perception. So if Alice is seen by others as friendly, do others think that Alice sees them as friendly? Dyadic assumed reciprocity implies a correlation between relationship effects. So if Alice sees Betty as especially friendly, does Alice think that Betty sees Alice as especially friendly?

There is not much evidence for generalized reciprocity in the perception of traits with an average correlation of .06 acorss 8 studies. The evidence for dyadic recporocity is also not impressive, with an average correlation of .13 across 10 studies.

Looking at the Big Five, in the 1994 Interpersonal Perception book, there was some evidence for generalized reciprocity for perceptions of Agreeableness. That is, if person A is seen by others as agreeable, that person sees others as agreeable.

In 2016 Michael Dufner, Daniel Leising, and Jochen Gebauer proposed an interesting hypothesis. They focused on the Big Two, Dominance and Friendliness, not the Big Five. They posited positive generalized reciprocity for Friendliness (part of which is Agreeableness), what they called Communion, and negative reciprocity for Dominance, what they called Agency. In their first study, they did find results of essentially a zero correlation for Dominance, r = –.01, but a positive correlation for Friendliness, r = .27. In their second study perceiver and target effects were correlated, and a negative correlation for Dominance was found, r = –.36, but essentially no correlation, r = .01, for Friendliness was found.

In a follow-up study in 2019, Richard Rau, Steffen Nestler, Katharina Geukes, Mitja Back, and Michael Dufner tested whether a negative perceiver effect in Dominance led to subsequent positive perceptions of the person’s target effect. The hypothesis originated from speculation in 1964 by Donald Campbell and his colleagues of complementary projection, which is that perceptions of others lead to behaviors, which in turn leads to how the person is seen by others. Results provided mixed support for their hypothesis.

Liking measures show clear evidence of dyadic reciprocity. That is, if A tends to particularly like B, B then particularly likes A. Moreover, there is evidence of increases in the reciprocity of liking as a function of acquaintance, being .12 at zero acquaintance. .28 at short-term acquaintance, and .52 at long-term acquaintance.

Overall generalized reciprocity correlations are small. However, in studies of romantic attraction, the correlations are consistently negative. The likely source is a confounder of physical attractiveness. Attractive people are liked more, but they tend to like others less.

Assumed reciprocity of trait perception is weak. However, assumed reciprocity of liking is one of the strongest effects in interpersonal perception. Both generalized and dyadic assumed reciprocity are found.
As discussed in the Metaperception and Meta-Accuracy page, the combination of assumed reciprocity and reciprocity appear to account for most the dyadic meta-accuracy for liking.

Campbell, D. T., Miller, N., Lubetsky, J., & O’Connell, E. (1964). Varieties of projection in trait attribution. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 78, 1–33.

Dufner, M., Leising, D., & Gebauer, J. E. (2016). Which basic rules underlie social judgments?: Agency follows a zero-sum principle and communion follows a non-zero-sum principle. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42, 677–687.

Rau, R., Nestler, S., Geukes, K., Back, M. D., & Dufner, M. (2019). Can other-derogation be beneficial? Seeing others as low in agency can lead to an agentic reputation in newly formed face-to-face groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117, 201–227.

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