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Verified Trust: Reciprocity, Altruism, and Noise in Trust Games

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  • Marius Brülhart
  • Jean-Claude Usunier

Abstract

Behavioral economists have come to recognize that reciprocity, the interaction of trust and trustworthiness, is a distinct and economically relevant component of individual preferences alongside selfishness and altruism. This recognition is principally due to observed decisions in experimental "trust games". However, recent research has cast doubt on the explanatory power of trust as a determinant of those decisions, suggesting that altruism may explain much of what "looks like" trust. Moreover, empirical tests for alternative behavioral determinants can be sensitive to experimental bias due to differences in protocols and framing. Therefore, we propose discriminatory tests for altruism and trust that can be based on within-treatment and within-subject comparisons, and we control for group attributes of experimental subjects. Our results support trust (i.e. expected reciprocation) as the dominant motivation for "trust like" decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Marius Brülhart & Jean-Claude Usunier, 2004. "Verified Trust: Reciprocity, Altruism, and Noise in Trust Games," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 04.15, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
  • Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:04.15
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    reciprocity; altruism; trust game; experimental error;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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