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Trustworthiness is a Social Norm, but Trusting is Not

Author

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  • Cristina Bicchieri

    () (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

  • Erte Xiao

    (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)

  • Ryan Muldoon

    (University of Western Ontario, Canada)

Abstract

Previous literature has demonstrated the important role that trust plays in developing and maintaining well-functioning societies. However, if we are to learn how to increase levels of trust in society, we must first understand why people choose to trust others. One potential answer to this is that people view trust as normative: there is a social norm for trusting that imposes punishment for noncompliance. To test this, we report data from a survey with salient rewards to elicit people's attitudes regarding the punishment of distrusting behavior in a trust game. Our results show that people do not behave as though trust is a norm. Our participants expected that most people would not punish untrusting investors, regardless of whether the potential trustee was a stranger or a friend. In contrast, our participants behaved as though being trustworthy is a norm. Most participants believed that most people would punish someone who failed to reciprocate a stranger's or a friend's trust. We conclude that, while we were able to reproduce previous results establishing that there is a norm of reciprocity, we found no evidence for a corresponding norm of trust, even among friends.

Suggested Citation

  • Cristina Bicchieri & Erte Xiao & Ryan Muldoon, 2011. "Trustworthiness is a Social Norm, but Trusting is Not," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 10(2), pages 170-187, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:10:y:2011:i:2:p:170-187
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    Cited by:

    1. Jieyao Ding, 2012. "A Portfolio of Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence on Choice Bracketing in a Mini-Trust Game," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_06, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. Chavez, Alex K. & Bicchieri, Cristina, 2013. "Third-party sanctioning and compensation behavior: Findings from the ultimatum game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 268-277.
    3. Espín, Antonio M. & Exadaktylos, Filippos & Neyse, Levent, 2016. "Heterogeneous Motives in the Trust Game: A Tale of Two Roles," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 141321, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Evans, Anthony M. & Athenstaedt, Ursula & Krueger, Joachim I., 2013. "The development of trust and altruism during childhood," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 82-95.
    5. Charles Bellemare & Alexander Sebald & Sigrid Suetens, 2018. "Heterogeneous guilt sensitivities and incentive effects," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(2), pages 316-336, June.
    6. Michael Naef & Alessandro Sontuoso, 2014. "Consensus vs. Conformity in Mixed-Motive Games," PPE Working Papers 0002, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    7. Al-Ubaydli, Omar & Houser, Daniel & Nye, John & Paganelli, Maria Pia & Pan, Xiaofei, 2013. "The Causal Effect of Market Priming on Trust: An Experimental Investigation Using Randomized Control," Scholarly Articles 11215414, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. repec:eee:streco:v:44:y:2018:i:c:p:55-67 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. 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.
    10. Bogliacino, Francesco & Grimalda, Gianluca & Jimenez, Laura, 2017. "Consultative Democracy & Trust," MPRA Paper 82138, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Liang, Pinghan & Meng, Juanjuan, 2013. "Love me, love my dog: an experimental study on social connections and indirect reciprocity," MPRA Paper 45270, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Marian Panganiban, 2015. "To friends everything, to strangers the law? An experiment on contract enforcement and group identity," Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-015, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    13. Anthony M. Evans & Joachim I. Krueger, 2014. "Outcomes and expectations in dilemmas of trust," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 9(2), pages 90-103, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trust; reciprocity; social norms; punishment;

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