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Harnessing the Benefits of Betrayal Aversion


  • Jason A. Aimone

    () (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute)

  • Daniel Houser

    () (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)


Recent research suggests that while there are negative effects of betrayal aversion, that the presence of betrayal-averse agents is beneficial in reducing trusteesÕ willingness to betray trust. If true, then many common knowledge institutions may have adopted institutional rules and features which mitigate the emotional disutility associated with betrayal aversion while simultaneously maintaining the high levels of reciprocation brought about by the presence of betrayal-averse agents. Here we conduct a laboratory experiment which identifies a prevalent successful institutional feature common to many every-day institutions: the voluntary, but not forced, option to discover the painful details of failed economic exchange. Length: 29

Suggested Citation

  • Jason A. Aimone & Daniel Houser, 2012. "Harnessing the Benefits of Betrayal Aversion," Working Papers 1030, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1030

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Houser, Daniel & Schunk, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2006. "Trust Games Measure Trust," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 06-14, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
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    3. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2003. "Promises & Partnership," Research Papers in Economics 2003:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    4. Houser, Daniel & Schunk, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2010. "Distinguishing trust from risk: An anatomy of the investment game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-2), pages 72-81, May.
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    15. Jason Aimone & Daniel Houser, 2012. "What you don’t know won’t hurt you: a laboratory analysis of betrayal aversion," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(4), pages 571-588, December.
    16. Fetchenhauer, Detlef & Dunning, David, 2012. "Betrayal aversion versus principled trustfulness—How to explain risk avoidance and risky choices in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 534-541.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simone Quercia, 2016. "Eliciting and measuring betrayal aversion using the BDM mechanism," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 48-59, May.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:110-121 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Cubitt, Robin & Gächter, Simon & Quercia, Simone, 2017. "Conditional cooperation and betrayal aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 110-121.
    4. Thomas Markussen & Louis Putterman & Liangjun Wang, 2017. "Governing Collective Action in the Face of Observational Error," Working Papers 2017-2, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    5. Simone Quercia, 2015. "On the Elicitation and Measurement of Betrayal Aversion," Discussion Papers 2015-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    6. Kandul, Serhiy, 2016. "Ex-post blindness as excuse? The effect of information disclosure on giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 91-101.
    7. Mohamed Gomaa & KiridaranKanagaretnam & Stuart Mestelman & Mohamed Shehata, 2014. "Exercising Empowerment in an Investment Environment," Department of Economics Working Papers 2014-13, McMaster University.
    8. Rodet, Cortney S., 2015. "An experiment in political trust," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 17-25.
    9. Jason A. Aimone & Luigi Butera & Thomas Stratmann, 2014. "Altruistic Punishment in Elections," CESifo Working Paper Series 4945, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    Betrayal Aversion; Risk; Trust; Institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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