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Trust Games Measure Trust

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Author Info

  • Houser, Daniel

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Economic Science Laboratory, University of Arizona)

  • Schunk, Daniel

    ()
    (University of Zürich Institute for Empirical Research in Economics)

  • Winter, Joachim

    ()
    (Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

Abstract

The relationship between trust and risk is a topic of enduring interest. Although there are substantial differences between the ideas the terms express, many researchers from different disciplines have pointed out that these two concepts become very closely related in personal exchange contexts. This raises the important practical concern over whether behaviors in the widely-used “trust game” actually measure trust, or instead reveal more about risk attitudes. It is critical to confront this question rigorously, as data from these games are increasingly used to support conclusions from a wide variety of fields including macroeconomic development, social psychology and cultural anthropology. The aim of this paper is to provide cogent evidence on the relationship between trust and risk in “trust” games. Subjects in our experiment participate either in a trust game or in its risk game counterpart. In the trust version, subjects play a standard trust game and know their counterparts are human. In the risk version, subjects know their counterparts are computers making random decisions. We compare decisions between these treatments, and also correlate behavior with subjects’ risk attitudes as measured by the Holt and Laury (2002) risk instrument. We provide evidence that trusting behavior is different than behavior under risk. In particular, (i) decisions patterns in our trust and risk games are significantly different; and (ii) risk attitudes predict decisions in the risk game, but not the trust game.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim in its series Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications with number 06-14.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 18 Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:xrs:sfbmaa:06-14

Note: Financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.
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References

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  1. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," CEPR Discussion Papers 6844, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  3. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
  4. Eckel, Catherine C. & Wilson, Rick K., 2004. "Is trust a risky decision?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 447-465, December.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846, August.
    • Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L. & Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Daniel Houser & Michael Keane & Kevin McCabe, 2002. "Behavior in a dynamic decision problem: An analysis of experimental evidence using a bayesian type classification algorithm," Experimental 0211001, EconWPA.
  7. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  8. McCabe, Kevin & Houser, Daniel & Ryan, Lee & Smith, Vernon & Trouard, Ted, 2001. "A Functional Imaging Study of Cooperation in Two-Person reciprocal Exchange," MPRA Paper 5172, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jason Aimone & Daniel Houser, 2008. "What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You: A Laboratory Analysis of Betrayal Aversion," Working Papers 1008, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Sep 2008.
  2. Daniel Ji & Pablo Guillen, 2010. "Trust, discrimination and acculturation Experimental evidence on Asian international and Australian domestic university students," ThE Papers 09/12, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  3. Jason A. Aimone & Daniel Houser, 2012. "Harnessing the Benefits of Betrayal Aversion," Working Papers 1030, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  4. Fetchenhauer, Detlef & Dunning, David, 2012. "Betrayal aversion versus principled trustfulness—How to explain risk avoidance and risky choices in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 534-541.
  5. Guillen, Pablo & Ji, Daniel, 2011. "Trust, discrimination and acculturation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 594-608.
  6. Bonein, Aurélie & Serra, Daniel, 2009. "Gender pairing bias in trustworthiness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 779-789, October.
  7. Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde & Anne Corcos, 2011. "Discriminating strategic reciprocity and acquired trust in the repeated trust-game," Post-Print ijn_00713460, HAL.
  8. Maroš Servátka & Steven Tucker & Radovan Vadovic, 2008. "Strategic Use of Trust," Working Papers in Economics 08/11, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.

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