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Trust as a social and emotional act: Noneconomic considerations in trust behavior

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  • Dunning, David
  • Fetchenhauer, Detlef
  • Schlösser, Thomas M.
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    Abstract

    We review research suggesting that decisions to trust strangers may not depend on economic dynamics as much as emotional and social ones. Classic treatments of trust emphasize its instrumental or consequential nature, proposing that people trust based on expectations that their trust will be honored and the size of reward if it is. Data from our labs, however, focusing on the trust or investment game, suggest that people trust even when their expectations of reward fall below their general tolerance for risk. Further data from our lab suggests that people trust not out of a concern for the consequences of their actions as much as for the actions themselves. The emotions people report feeling about trusting versus withholding trust predicts their decisions much more strongly than the emotions they attach to the potential outcomes. Social dynamics, such as whether participants have been assigned to a specific counterpart in the game, influence whether they trust, even though their economic expectations and payoffs remain unchanged. The dynamics surrounding decisions to trust are complex, and involve social and emotional considerations beyond economic ones.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 686-694

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:3:p:686-694

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

    Related research

    Keywords: Trust; Economic games; Risk behavior; Exchange relationships;

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    1. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
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    12. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1982. "Regret Theory: An Alternative Theory of Rational Choice under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 805-24, December.
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