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Is Trust a Bad Investment?

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  • Ashraf, Nava

    (Harvard U)

  • Bohnet, Iris

    (Harvard U)

  • Piankov, Nikita

    (Harvard U)

Abstract

This paper examines whether trust is an investment decision under uncertainty, based on the expectation of trustworthiness, and whether trustworthiness is reciprocity, conditional on one's counterpart's behavior. In experiments run in Russia, South Africa and the United States, we find that only about one third of the subjects who trust expect to make money and that reciprocity matters in the United States but hardly in Russia and South Africa. On average, trust and trustworthiness behavior is significantly related to warm-glow kindness-with the exception of women's trust, which is almost exclusively accounted for by expectations of return. One-shot trust appears to "pay" for some but not for others. Key Words: Trust, kindness, reciprocity, gender, cross-cultural experiments.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashraf, Nava & Bohnet, Iris & Piankov, Nikita, 2003. "Is Trust a Bad Investment?," Working Paper Series rwp03-047, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp03-047
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    Cited by:

    1. Urs Fischbacher & Simon G�chter, 2005. "Heterogeneous social preferences and the dynamics of free riding in public goods," IEW - Working Papers 261, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Benno Torgler & Friedrich Schneider, 2007. "What Shapes Attitudes Toward Paying Taxes? Evidence from Multicultural European Countries," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 88(2), pages 443-470.
    3. Pfaff, Alexander & Vélez, Maria Alejandra, 2012. "Efficiency and equity in negotiated resource transfers: Contributions and limitations of trust with limited contracts," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 55-63.
    4. Michael Naef & Jürgen Schupp, 2009. "Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 167, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Tomomi Tanaka & Colin F. Camerer & Quang Nguyen, 2006. "Preferences, Poverty and Politics: Experimental and Survey Data from Vietnam," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000054, UCLA Department of Economics.
    6. Alessandro Innocenti & Maria Grazia Pazienza, 2006. "Altruism and Gender in the Trust Game," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 005, University of Siena.
    7. Catherine Eckel & Rick Wilson, 2006. "Internet cautions: Experimental games with internet partners," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(1), pages 53-66, April.
    8. Kanagaretnam, Kiridaran & Mestelman, Stuart & Nainar, Khalid & Shehata, Mohamed, 2009. "The impact of social value orientation and risk attitudes on trust and reciprocity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 368-380, June.
    9. Mahajna, Ahmad & Benzion, Uri & Bogaire, Ravid & Shavit, Tal, 2008. "Subjective discount rates among Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2513-2522, December.
    10. René Fahr & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2008. "Identifying personality traits to enhance trust between organisations: an experimental approach," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(6), pages 469-487.
    11. Burns, Justine, 2006. "Racial stereotypes, stigma and trust in post-apartheid South Africa," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 805-821, September.
    12. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
    13. Alm, James & Torgler, Benno, 2006. "Culture differences and tax morale in the United States and in Europe," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 224-246, April.
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    16. Justine Burns, 2004. "Race and trust in post-apartheid South Africa," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 078, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    17. Clinton J. Pecenka & Godfrey Kundhlande, 2013. "Theft in South Africa: An Experiment to Examine the Influence of Racial Identity and Inequality," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(5), pages 737-753, May.

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    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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