IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The robustness of trust and reciprocity across a heterogeneous U.S. population

  • Garbarino, Ellen
  • Slonim, Robert

Experimental evidence on gender differences demonstrates that women are generally less trusting and more reciprocating than men in Investment Games. However, existing studies typically use a narrow population consisting of college students. To test the robustness of these findings, we report on an experiment using 18-84-year old participants recruited from an online panel. While trusting gender differences are robust across age, with women less trusting than men, reciprocating behavior is not robust across age; gender differences in reciprocating behavior depend on age and amounts received in a complex manner. Regarding trusting behavior, we also find that men and women of all ages trust women and older people more than men and younger people. To understand trust better, we collected socio-economic and demographic information and experimentally measured how much subjects expected different partner types would return. While socio-economic and demographic information explain little of the trusting and reciprocating behavior, expectations explain nearly 50 percent of the reason women trust less than men and why more is sent to women and older people. However, even after controlling for expectations, gender and age differences remain significant in explaining trusting behavior.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 69 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 226-240

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:69:y:2009:i:3:p:226-240
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2001. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," NBER Working Papers 8200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & von Rosenbladt, Bernhard & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2003. "A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioral Experiments into Representative Surveys," IZA Discussion Papers 715, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kroger, 2005. "On Representative Social Capital," Cahiers de recherche 0504, CIRPEE.
  4. Holm, Hakan J., 2000. "Gender-Based Focal Points," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 292-314, August.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
  6. Christiane Schwieren & Matthias Sutter, 2003. "Trust in cooperation or ability? – An experimental study on gender differences," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2003-24, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  8. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital And Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 909, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  9. Charness, Gary B & Brandts, Jordi, 1998. "Hot vs. Cold: Sequential Responses and Preference Stability in Experimental Games," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4kx7d5pv, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  10. Macpherson, David A & Hirsch, Barry T, 1995. "Wages and Gender Composition: Why Do Women's Jobs Pay Less?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 426-71, July.
  11. Jeffrey Carpenter & Erika Seki, 2005. "Do Social PreferencesIncrease Productivity? Field experimental evidence from fishermen in Toyoma Bay," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0515, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  12. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
  13. Buchan, Nancy R. & Croson, Rachel T.A. & Solnick, Sara, 2008. "Trust and gender: An examination of behavior and beliefs in the Investment Game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 466-476, December.
  14. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  15. Bajtelsmit, Vickie L. & Bernasek, Alexandra & Jianakoplos, Nancy A., 1999. "Gender differences in defined contribution pension decisions," Financial Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 1-10.
  16. James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2006. "When Are Women More Generous than Men?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(4), pages 587-598, October.
  17. Nancy Buchan & Rachel Croson, 1999. "Gender and Culture: International Experimental Evidence from Trust Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 386-391, May.
  18. John List, 2004. "Young, selfish, and male: Field evidence of social preferences," Natural Field Experiments 00298, The Field Experiments Website.
  19. Avner Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman, 1999. "Reciprocity in a Two Part Dictator Game," Working Papers 99-28, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  20. Holm, Hakan & Nystedt, Paul, 2005. "Intra-generational trust--a semi-experimental study of trust among different generations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 403-419, November.
  21. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
  22. Ananish Chaudhuri & Lata Gangadharan, 2007. "An Experimental Analysis of Trust and Trustworthiness," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 959–985, April.
  23. Andreas Ortmann & John Fitzgerald & Carl Boeing, 2000. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History: A Re-examination," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 81-100, June.
  24. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
  25. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
  26. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805.
  27. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:69:y:2009:i:3:p:226-240. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.