Problem summary

We feel obliged to give when we receive

Example

scribd.com

Right after downloading a document from scribed you are asked to share a document of your own. One favor in return for another?

Usage

  • Utilize the power of reciprocation by provoking or retaliating users to returning a favor or value provided for free.

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More examples

Solution

Make users feel they have been done a favor by the system or other users in order to make them feel obliged to return it. The favor can be annything from receiving a physical gift to a hug – or even a “like” on facebook. The receiver of the gesture or favor then has the social obligation to respond, following the norm of reciprocity.

Reciprocity can also play out in a negative way: revenge. Even though revenge is a negative behavior, it has been utilized in a number of online games, where you try to “get each other”. On Foursquare, you can take over the mayorships of other people, which in turn feel obliqued to return the negative favor.

Provoke users to retaliate based on their social obligation to respond.

Rationale

If we feel we have been done a favor, we will want to return it. When we receive a gift, we are more likely to comply with the demand that follows: we say yes to those we owe.

Reciprocation is part of the norms that form our social behavior. We are raised that returning a favor is the right thing to do and that we should feel bad if we do not return a favor. Our bad conscience will at some point gather up unreturned favors into some sort or action from users.


More examples of the Reciprocation pattern See all 2 example screenshots

User Interface Design Patterns