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Neuroeconomic Foundation of Trust and Social Preferences

  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Fischbacher, Urs
  • Kosfeld, Michael

This paper discusses recent neuroeconomic evidence related to other-regarding behaviours and the decision to trust in other people’s other-regarding behaviour. This evidence supports the view that people derive non-pecuniary utility (i) from mutual cooperation in social dilemma (SD) games and (ii) from punishing unfair behaviour. Thus, mutual cooperation and the punishment of free riders in SD games is not irrational, but better understood as rational behaviour of people with corresponding social preferences. We also report the results of a recent study that examines the impact of the neuropeptide Oxytocin (OT) on trusting and trustworthy behaviour in a sequential SD. Animal studies have identified Oxytocin as a hormone that induces pro-social approach behaviour, suggesting that it may also affect pro-social behavior in humans. Indeed, the study shows that subjects given Oxytocin exhibit much more trusting behaviour, suggesting that OT has a direct impact on certain aspects of subjects’ social preferences. Interestingly, however, although Oxytocin affects trusting behaviour, it has no effect on subjects’ trustworthiness.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5127.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5127
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Kosfeld, Michael, 2005. "Neuroeconomic Foundation of Trust and Social Preferences," CEPR Discussion Papers 5127, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Rafael Lalive & Jan Van Ours & Josef Zweimuller, 2006. "How Changes in Financial Incentives Affect the Duration of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 1009-1038.
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  4. Stutzer Alois & Frey Bruno S., 2006. "Making International Organizations More Democratic," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(3), pages 305-330, January.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Kremhelmer, Susanne & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and the Optimal Allocation of Ownership Rights," Discussion Papers in Economics 727, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Alois Stutzer & Lukas Kienast, 2004. "Demokratische Beteiligung und Staatsausgaben: Die Auswirkungen des Frauenstimmrechts," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-26, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  7. Bruno S. Frey, 2005. "Knight Fever – Towards an Economics of Awards," CESifo Working Paper Series 1468, CESifo Group Munich.
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  11. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioral Effects of Minimum Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 1625, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Max Gruetter & Rafael Lalive, . "The Importance of Firms in Wage Determination," IEW - Working Papers 207, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Gruetter, Max, 2005. "Returns to Foreign Education: Yet Another But Different Cross Country Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 1615, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Rafael Lalive & Josef Zweimüller, . "Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a ”True Natural Experiment”," IEW - Working Papers 242, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  15. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
  16. Patarick Leoni & Stephane Luchini, 2006. "Designing the Financial Tools to Promote Universal Access to AIDS Care," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1711106, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  17. Singer, Tania & Fehr, Ernst, 2005. "The Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy," IZA Discussion Papers 1647, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Philipp C. Wichardt & Pavlo R. Blavatskyy, . "Base-Rate Neglect and Imperfect Information Acquisition," IEW - Working Papers 233, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  19. Aleksander Berentsen & Gabriele Camera & C hristopher W aller, 2005. "The Distribution Of Money Balances And The Nonneutrality Of Money," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(2), pages 465-487, 05.
  20. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimüller, . "Income Distribution and Demand-induced Innovations," IEW - Working Papers 212, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  21. Pavlo R. Blavatskyy, . "A Stochastic Expected Utility Theory," IEW - Working Papers 231, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  22. Aleksander Berentsen & Gabriele Camera, 2004. "Money, Credit, and Banking," 2004 Meeting Papers 473, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  23. Christian Ewerhart & Nuno Cassola & Steen Ejerskov & Natacha Valla, . "Optimal Allotment Policy in Central Bank Open Market Operations," IEW - Working Papers 201, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  24. Christian Ewerhart, . "The Effect of Sunk Costs on the Outcome of Alternating-Offers Bargaining between Inequity-Averse Agents," IEW - Working Papers 203, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  25. Frey, Bruno S. & Benesch, Christine & Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Does watching TV make us happy?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 283-313, June.
  26. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "The Role of Direct Democracy and Federalism in Local Power," IEW - Working Papers 209, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  27. Philipp C. Wichardt, . "An Application of Global Games to Signalling Models," IEW - Working Papers 223, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  28. De Giorgi, Enrico & Post, Thierry, 2008. "Second-Order Stochastic Dominance, Reward-Risk Portfolio Selection, and the CAPM," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 525-546, June.
  29. Martin Brown & Christian Zehnder, 2005. "Credit Registries, Relationship Banking and Loan Repayment," IEW - Working Papers 240, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  30. Christian Ewerhart & Christoph Nitzsche, . ": On the Notion of the First Best in Standard Hidden Action Problems," IEW - Working Papers 229, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  31. Peter Woehrmann & Willi Semmler & Martin Lettau, . "Nonparametric Estimation of the Time-varying Sharpe Ratio in Dynamic Asset Pricing Models," IEW - Working Papers 225, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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