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Reciprocity Effects in the Trust Game


  • Alexander Smith

    () (Department of Social Science and Policy Studies (SSPS), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01605, USA)


I use data from a previous experiment for classifying subjects based on their behavior in the trust game. Prior literature defines a “reciprocity effect” as the tendency for Second Movers to return proportions increasing in the amounts that they receive. In the data that I use, 31% of Second Movers show reciprocity effects, 31% are neutral, and 25% consistently free-ride, indicating that the aggregate reciprocity effect for the sample as a whole is attributable to a minority of the subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Smith, 2013. "Reciprocity Effects in the Trust Game," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-8, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jgames:v:4:y:2013:i:3:p:367-374:d:27623

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2011. "The strategy versus the direct-response method: a first survey of experimental comparisons," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(3), pages 375-398, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Cochard, Francois & Nguyen Van, Phu & Willinger, Marc, 2004. "Trusting behavior in a repeated investment game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 31-44, September.
    4. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
    5. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    6. David Amdur & Ethan Schmick, 2013. "Does the direct-response method induce guilt aversion in a trust game?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 687-693.
    7. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    8. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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    More about this item


    trust game; reciprocity; strategy method;

    JEL classification:

    • C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games


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