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Suit the action to the word, the word to the action: Eliciting motives for trust and reciprocity by attitudinal and behavioural measures

  • Farina, Francesco
  • O'Higgins, Niall
  • Sbriglia, Patrizia

Two important primitives of social capital are the disposition to trust and to reciprocate manifested in social life. In this paper, attitudinal and behavioural evidence is used to investigate the nature of the motivations underlying behaviour in Trust and Dictator games. In doing so, we have three aims. First, to find out whether, and to what extent, answers to a questionnaire about attitudes towards trust and civicness predict subjects' behaviour. Second, to disentangle strategic from other-regarding motivations by comparing behaviour in Trust and Dictator Games. Third, to investigate to what extent a correspondence could be found between subjects' attitudinal 'type' and their behaviour in the two interactive experimental settings. The paper builds on previous work in the area and in particular finds that using surveys to distinguish between the behavioural responses of different attitudinal types-"Trusting" or "Prudent" on the one hand and "Trustworthy" or "Untrustworthy" on the other, allows us to dig deeper into the underlying motivations of the experimental subjects. The self-declared trusting tend to manifest trust by investing more in the risky interaction than the prudent, and the self-declared trustworthy are inclined to return more than the untrustworthy. Moreover, the self-reported trustworthy and untrustworthy tend to manifest positive or negative reciprocity, respectively. The evidence suggests that the former are moved by the intention to reward and the latter by the desire to punish a stingy Sender by returning an even smaller amount than received. This seems to confirm the "multiple self" view (Elster, 1986), whereby in the personality of each individual many components-possibly distant in terms of the motivating sentiments-are gathered together.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research in Economics.

Volume (Year): 63 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 253-265

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Handle: RePEc:eee:reecon:v:63:y:2009:i:4:p:253-265
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