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Assigning Intentions when Actions Are Unobservable: The Impact of Trembling in the Trust Game

Author

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  • James C. Cox

    () (Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University)

  • Cary A. Deck

    () (Department of Economics, University of Arkansas)

Abstract

This article reports laboratory experiments investigating behavior in which players may make inferences about the intentions behind others' prior actions based on higher- or lower-accuracy information about those actions. We investigate a trust game with first mover trembling, a game in which nature determines whether the first mover's decision is implemented or reversed. The results indicate that second movers give first movers the benefit of the doubt. However, first movers do not anticipate this response. Ultimately, it appears that subjects are thinking on at least three levels when making decisions: they are concerned with their own material well-being, the trustworthiness of their counterpart, and how their own actions will be perceived.

Suggested Citation

  • James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2006. "Assigning Intentions when Actions Are Unobservable: The Impact of Trembling in the Trust Game," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 307-314, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:73:2:y:2006:p:307-314
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2001. "The Relevance of Equal Splits in Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 161-169, October.
    3. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
    4. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, "undated". "Direct Tests of Models of Social Preferences and a New Model," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-13, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Jul 2010.
    5. Cary A. Deck, 2001. "A Test of Game-Theoretic and Behavioral Models of Play in Exchange and Insurance Environments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1546-1555, December.
    6. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2003. "On the Nature of Fair Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(1), pages 20-26, January.
    7. 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.
    8. Guth, Werner & Tietz, Reinhard, 1990. "Ultimatum bargaining behavior : A survey and comparison of experimental results," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 417-449, September.
    9. James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2006. "When Are Women More Generous than Men?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(4), pages 587-598, October.
    10. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:01:p:131-144_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Bohnet, Iris & Frey, Bruno S. & Huck, Steffen, 2001. "More Order with Less Law: On Contract Enforcement, Trust, and Crowding," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 95(01), pages 131-144, March.
    13. James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2005. "On the Nature of Reciprocal Motives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 623-635, July.
    14. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Kanagaretnam, Kiridaran & Mestelman, Stuart & Nainar, S.M. Khalid & Shehata, Mohamed, 2014. "Transparency and empowerment in an investment environment," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(9), pages 2030-2038.
    2. Luccasen, R. Andrew & Thomas, M. Kathleen, 2014. "Monetary incentives versus class credit: Evidence from a large classroom trust experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 232-235.
    3. Bryan C. McCannon & Colleen Tokar Asaad & Mark Wilson, 2016. "Financial competence, overconfidence, and trusting investments: Results from an experiment," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 40(3), pages 590-606, July.
    4. Kanagaretnam, Kiridaran & Mestelman, Stuart & Nainar, S.M. Khalid & Shehata, Mohamed, 2010. "Trust and reciprocity with transparency and repeated interactions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 241-247, March.
    5. Kiridaran Kanagaretnam & Stuart Mestelman & S. M. Khalid Nainar & Mohamed Shehata, 2012. "Trust and Reciprocity, Empowerment and Transparency," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-12, McMaster University.
    6. Mccannon, Bryan C., 2014. "Trust, reciprocity, and a preference for economic freedom: experimental evidence," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(03), pages 451-470, September.
    7. Woods, Daniel & Servátka, Maroš, 2016. "Nice to You, Nicer to Me: Does Self-Serving Generosity Diminish the Reciprocal Response?," MPRA Paper 74565, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:132-144 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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