IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article

Information, irrationality, and the evolution of trust

  • Manapat, Michael L.
  • Nowak, Martin A.
  • Rand, David G.
Registered author(s):

    Trust is a central component of social and economic interactions among humans. While rational self-interest dictates that “investors” should not be trusting and “trustees” should not be trustworthy in one-shot anonymous interactions, behavioral experiments with the “trust game” have found that people are both. Here we show how an evolutionary framework can explain this seemingly irrational, altruistic behavior. When individuals’ strategies evolve in a context in which (1) investors sometimes have knowledge about trustees before transactions occur and (2) trustees compete with each other for access to investors, natural selection can favor both trust and trustworthiness, even in the subset of interactions in which individuals interact anonymously. We investigate the effects of investors having “fuzzy minds” and making irrationally large demands, finding that both improve outcomes for investors but are not evolutionarily stable. Furthermore, we often find oscillations in trust and trustworthiness instead of convergence to a socially optimal stable equilibrium, with increasing trustworthiness preceeding trust in these cycles. Finally, we show how “partner choice,” or competition among trustees in small group settings, can lead to arbitrarily equitable distributions of the game's proceeds. To complement our theoretical analysis, we performed a novel behavioral experiment with a modified version of the trust game. Our evolutionary framework provides an ultimate mechanism—not just a proximate psychological explanation—for the emergence of trusting behavior and can explain why trust and trustworthiness are sometimes stable and other times unstable.

    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: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268112002296
    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): 90 (2013)
    Issue (Month): S ()
    Pages: S57-S75

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:90:y:2013:i:s:p:s57-s75
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

    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. Rajiv Sethi & E. Somanathan, 1999. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Game Theory and Information 9903001, EconWPA, revised 12 Mar 1999.
    2. Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Working Papers 1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    3. Iris Bohnet & Steffen Huck, 2004. "Repetition and Reputation: Implications for Trust and Trustworthiness When Institutions Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 362-366, May.
    4. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    5. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    6. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
    8. Ernst Fehr, 2009. "On the economics and biology of trust," IEW - Working Papers 399, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    9. Horton, John Joseph & Rand, David Gertler & Zeckhauser, Richard Jay, 2010. "The Online Laboratory: Conducting Experiments in a Real Labor Market," Scholarly Articles 4448876, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    10. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Michael Manapat & David Rand, 2012. "Delayed and Inconsistent Information and the Evolution of Trust," Dynamic Games and Applications, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 401-410, December.
    12. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    13. Gabriele Paolacci & Jesse Chandler & Panagiotis G. Ipeirotis, 2010. "Running experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(5), pages 411-419, August.
    14. M.A. Nowak & K. Sigmund, 1998. "Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity by Image Scoring/ The Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity," Working Papers ir98040, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
    15. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2003. "Trust, Risk and Betrayal," Working Paper Series rwp03-041, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    16. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
    17. Fudenberg, Drew & Imhof, Lorens, 2006. "Imitation Processes with Small Mutations," Scholarly Articles 3190369, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    18. Dekel, Eddie & Ely, Jeffrey & Yilankaya, Okan, 2004. "Evolution of Preferences," Microeconomics.ca working papers dekel-04-08-13-01-21-07, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Jun 2006.
    19. Gowdy, John M. & Dollimore, Denise E. & Wilson, David Sloan & Witt, Ulrich, 2013. "Economic cosmology and the evolutionary challenge," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S11-S20.
    20. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    21. Nowak, Martin & Sasaki, Akira & Fudenberg, Drew & Taylor, Christine, 2004. "Emergence of Cooperation and Evolutionary Stability in Finite Populations," Scholarly Articles 3196331, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    22. 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.
    23. Johnson, Noel D. & Mislin, Alexandra A., 2011. "Trust games: A meta-analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 865-889.
    24. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
    25. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
    26. Malhotra, Deepak, 2004. "Trust and reciprocity decisions: The differing perspectives of trustors and trusted parties," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 61-73, July.
    27. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
    28. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    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:90:y:2013:i:s:p:s57-s75. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

    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.