Both the law and culture make a central distinction between acts of commission that overturn the status quo and acts of omission that uphold it. In everyday life acts of commission often elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in two experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories, Axiom R (for reciprocity) and Axiom S (for status quo). We find support for this theory in both experiments.
Cox, James; Servátka, Maroš; and Vadovic, Radovan, "Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of
Commission vs. Acts of Omission" (2012). ExCEN Working Papers. 51.