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Symposium: Trust among the Avatars: A Virtual World Experiment, with and without Textual and Visual Cues


  • Stephen Atlas

    () (Columbia Business School, New York, NY 10027, USA)

  • Louis Puttermant

    () (Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA)


We invited “residents” of a virtual world who vary in real-world age and occupation to play a trust game with stakes comparable to “in-world” wages. In different treatments, the lab wall was adorned with an emotively suggestive photograph, a suggestive text was added to the instructions, or both a photo and text were added. We find high levels of trust and reciprocity that appear still higher for non-student and older subjects. Variation of results by treatment suggests that both photographic and textual cues influenced the level of trust but not that of trustworthiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Atlas & Louis Puttermant, 2011. "Symposium: Trust among the Avatars: A Virtual World Experiment, with and without Textual and Visual Cues," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 63-86, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:78:1:y:2011:p:63-86

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    Cited by:

    1. Greiner, Ben & Caravella, Mary & Roth, Alvin E., 2014. "Is avatar-to-avatar communication as effective as face-to-face communication? An Ultimatum Game experiment in First and Second Life," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 374-382.
    2. Michalis Drouvelis & Robert Metcalfe & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2015. "Can priming cooperation increase public good contributions?," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 79(3), pages 479-492, November.
    3. Innocenti, Alessandro, 2017. "Virtual reality experiments in economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 71-77.
    4. Bryan C. McCannon & Colleen Tokar Asaad & Mark Wilson, 2015. "Contracts and Trust," Working Papers 15-15, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.

    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
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles


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