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Prosocial exchange systems: Nonreciprocal giving, lending, and skill-sharing

Harvey, John; Smith, Andrew; Golightly, David; Goulding, James; Gallage, H.P. Samanthika

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Professor of Consumer Behaviour & Analytics

David Golightly


Prosocial exchange systems support cooperation and exchange in support of more sustainable forms of consumption. While often assumed that exchanges within such systems are reciprocal, it remains unproven as to what extent reciprocity occurs. This study uses data from a live present an analysis of direct and indirect reciprocal relationships (for interactions of giving, lending, and skillsharing) over 4 and half years. The dataset contains behavioural data relating to 5053 acts of offline non-monetary exchange. The analysis categorised different forms of exchange that took place-giving, lending, and skill sharing. These exchanges were then analysed for direct (one-to-one) and indirect reciprocity (chains of three or more users). The results show that instances of reciprocity are rare, and when present often span more than one type of exchange. The conclusion is that reciprocity cannot be assumed to be the norm in prosocial exchange systems. Practically, design and deployment should not be predicated on reciprocity. Furthermore, any means to encourage reciprocity should make patterns of exchange visible, and do so across hybrid forms of exchange.


Harvey, J., Smith, A., Golightly, D., Goulding, J., & Gallage, H. S. (2020). Prosocial exchange systems: Nonreciprocal giving, lending, and skill-sharing. Computers in Human Behavior, 107,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2020
Online Publication Date Jan 21, 2020
Publication Date 2020-06
Deposit Date Jul 31, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 22, 2022
Journal Computers in Human Behavior
Print ISSN 0747-5632
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 107
Article Number 106268
Keywords Giving; Sharing; Reciprocity; Collaborative Consumption; Sharing Economy; Network Analysis 2
Public URL
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Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Prosocial exchange systems: Nonreciprocal giving, lending, and skill-sharing; Journal Title: Computers in Human Behavior; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2020 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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