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What you don’t know won’t hurt you: a laboratory analysis of betrayal aversion

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  • Jason Aimone

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  • Daniel Houser

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Abstract

Recent research argues “betrayal aversion” leads many people to avoid risk more when a person, rather than nature, determines the outcome of uncertainty. However, past studies indicate that factors unrelated to betrayal aversion, such as loss aversion, could contribute to differences between treatments. Using a novel experiment design to isolate betrayal aversion, one that varies how strategic uncertainty is resolved, we provide rigorous evidence supporting the detrimental impact of betrayal aversion. The impact is substantial: holding fixed the probability of betrayal, the possibility of knowing that one has been betrayed reduces investment by about one-third. We suggest emotion-regulation underlies these results and helps to explain the importance of impersonal, institution-mediated exchange in promoting economic efficiency. Copyright Economic Science Association 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Aimone & Daniel Houser, 2012. "What you don’t know won’t hurt you: a laboratory analysis of betrayal aversion," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(4), pages 571-588, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:15:y:2012:i:4:p:571-588 DOI: 10.1007/s10683-012-9314-z
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Simone Quercia, 2016. "Eliciting and measuring betrayal aversion using the BDM mechanism," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 48-59, May.
    2. repec:zur:iewwpx:488 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:110-121 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Aimone, Jason A. & Houser, Daniel, 2013. "Harnessing the benefits of betrayal aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 1-8.
    5. Cubitt, Robin & Gächter, Simon & Quercia, Simone, 2017. "Conditional cooperation and betrayal aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, pages 110-121.
    6. Corgnet, Brice & Espín, Antonio M. & Hernán-González, Roberto & Kujal, Praveen & Rassenti, Stephen, 2016. "To trust, or not to trust: Cognitive reflection in trust games," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 20-27.
    7. Luigi Butera & John A. List, 2017. "An Economic Approach to Alleviate the Crises of Confidence in Science: With an Application to the Public Goods Game," NBER Working Papers 23335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jeffrey V. Butler & Joshua B. Miller, 2014. "Social Risk: the Role of Warmth and Competence," Working Papers 522, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    9. Simone Quercia, 2015. "On the Elicitation and Measurement of Betrayal Aversion," Discussion Papers 2015-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    10. repec:jdm:journl:v:12:y:2017:i:6:p:584-595 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Rodet, Cortney S., 2015. "An experiment in political trust," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 17-25.
    12. repec:eee:soceco:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:4-17 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Philip J. Grossman & Mana Komai & James E. Jensen, 2015. "Leadership and gender in groups: An experiment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(1), pages 368-388, February.
    14. Steffen Keck & Natalia Karelaia, 2012. "Does competition foster trust? The role of tournament incentives," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(1), pages 204-228, March.
    15. Anbarcı, Nejat & Feltovich, Nick & Gürdal, Mehmet Y., 2015. "Lying about the price? Ultimatum bargaining with messages and imperfectly observed offers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 346-360.
    16. Fairley, Kim & Sanfey, Alan & Vyrastekova, Jana & Weitzel, Utz, 2016. "Trust and risk revisited," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 74-85.
    17. Fairley, Kim & Sanfey, Alan & Vyrastekova, Jana & Weitzel, Utz, 2012. "Social risk and ambiguity in the trust game," MPRA Paper 42302, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Betrayal aversion; Risk; Trust; Emotion regulation; C91; D03; D81;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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