The motivation to reciprocate is analyzed within the framework of interdependence theory, with focus on the process of transformation of situations. A model of transformation is presented for the motivation to reciprocate and hypotheses regarding allocation behavior and information seeking are derived. The hypotheses are tested in two experiments implementing a game where participants allocate payoff to self and other in a sequential way, with one participant able to gather costly information regarding the other's previous behavior. Individual differences in the motivation to reciprocate are assessed with the Personal Norm of Reciprocity questionnaire. Results show that participants with high motivation to reciprocate seek information regarding other's past behavior, and react to this information as the norm of reciprocity prescribes. Participants with low motivation to reciprocate prefer information regarding the future of the interaction (Study 1), or no information (Study 2), and behave in a more selfish way. Results are discussed with respect of (1) the transformation of situation process, (2) the role of reciprocity as an interpersonal motive, and (3) the validity of the individual differences measure. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.