Rule of Reciprocity

February 17, 2023 by  
Filed under Faith

By Cheri Cowell –


Marketers utilize a wide range of strategies to convince consumers to make purchases. Some are straightforward such as sales, coupons, and special promotions. Others are subtler and make use of a principle of human psychology called the Rule of Reciprocity. This rule operates on a simple principle: We tend to feel obligated to return favors after people do favors for us. For instance, when a friend takes you to the airport, you feel obligated to return the favor the next time they ask. And when they refuse to react to a perceived insult it is easier to overlook theirs.

This is not hard when other people are deserving of fair treatment. When they treat you well you want to return the favor. However, practicing this rule becomes difficult when the person isn’t deserving. In these instances, the Bible tells us we are to practice the foundational rule for peacekeeping. Often referred to as the Golden Rule, it tells us we are to treat others the way we want them to treat us—not the way we are treated.

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31 NASB).

Prayer: I respond easily to someone who does a favor for me, but agree it is more difficult (and more Godly) to treat others the way I want them to treat me—not the way I’m treated.



About Brenda McIntyre

Brenda W. McIntyre is a freelance author who has held a variety of jobs over the years. She has been a house parent at a residential child care facility, a truck driver, and a prison librarian, but her first love has always been writing. She is involved in community theatre and serves as the Senior Content Editor for
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