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

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.

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Paper provided by Brown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2010-18.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2010-18
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

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  1. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1998. "Behavioral Foundations of Reciprocity: Experimental Economics and Evolutionary Psychology," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 335-52, July.
  2. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "THE HIDDEN COSTS AND RETURNS OF INCENTIVES — TRUST AND TRUSTWORTHINESS AMONG CEOs," Labor and Demography 0409012, EconWPA.
  3. Fiedler, Marina & Haruvy, Ernan, 2009. "The lab versus the virtual lab and virtual field--An experimental investigation of trust games with communication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 716-724, November.
  4. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  5. Danielson, Anders & Holm, Hakan J, 2003. "Tropic Trust versus Nordic Trust: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania and Sweden," Working Papers 2003:6, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  6. Kirchsteiger, Georg & Rigotti, Luca & Rustichini, Aldo, 2006. "Your morals might be your moods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 155-172, February.
  7. Burnham, Terence & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L., 2000. "Friend-or-foe intentionality priming in an extensive form trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 57-73, September.
  8. Joseph Henrich, 2001. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 73-78, May.
  9. Thomas Chesney & Swee-Hoon Chuah & Robert Hoffmann, 2007. "Virtual world experimentation: An exploratory study," Occasional Papers 21, Industrial Economics Division.
  10. Scharlemann, Jorn P. W. & Eckel, Catherine C. & Kacelnik, Alex & Wilson, Rick K., 2001. "The value of a smile: Game theory with a human face," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 617-640, October.
  11. Laura Schechter, 2005. "Traditional trust measurement and the risk confound: An experiment in rural paraguay," Artefactual Field Experiments 00106, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. Catherine Eckel & Rick Wilson, 2006. "Internet cautions: Experimental games with internet partners," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 53-66, April.
  13. A. Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman, 1997. "Values and Institutions in Economic Analysis," Working Papers 97-4, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  14. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846, August.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Stephen V. Burks & Jeffrey Carpenter & Lorenz Götte & Kristen Monaco & Kay Porter & Aldo Rustichini, 2008. "Using Behavioral Economic Field Experiments at a Firm: The Context and Design of the Truckers and Turnover Project," NBER Chapters, in: The Analysis of Firms and Employees: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, pages 45-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Abigail Barr, 2003. "Trust and expected trustworthiness: experimental evidence from zimbabwean villages," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 614-630, 07.
  17. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Monaco, Kristen & Porter, Kay & Rustichini, Aldo, 2007. "Using Behavioral Economic Experiments at a Large Motor Carrier: The Context and Design of the Truckers and Turnover Project," IZA Discussion Papers 2789, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Verhoogen, Eric, 2003. "Playing both roles in the trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-216, June.
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