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Trust and Trustworthiness in Anonymous Virtual Worlds

Listed author(s):
  • Sascha Fullbrunn
  • Katharina Richwien
  • Abdolkarim Sadrieh

Virtual communities like Second Life (SL) represent an economic factor with increasing potential, but may induce behavior that deviates from real-world experience. This article introduces a new experimental design that is based on the trust game (Berg, Dickhaut, & McCabe, 1995), but eliminates the problem of multiple virtual identities. One treatment of the experiment in the virtual world SL was conducted and the results compared to the First Life (FL) control treatment, which was conducted on a university campus. In SL, significantly lower investment levels were found, but significantly higher average returns were found than in the FL treatment or in the literature. It is conjectured that the disparity between trusting and trustworthy behavior is a sign that the social structure in SL is still evolving. It seems plausible that the trustors in a young and developing society cautiously test the extent of trustworthiness, whereas the trustees strategically invest in levels of trustworthiness that are higher than in settled societies to build up a trustworthy environment.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Media Economics.

Volume (Year): 24 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 48-63

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jmedec:v:24:y:2011:i:1:p:48-63
DOI: 10.1080/08997764.2011.549432
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