IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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

  • Marius Brülhart
  • Jean-Claude Usunier

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 04.15.

in new window

Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published under the title "Does the trust game measure trust?" in: Economics Letters, vol. 115 (1), April 2012, pp. 20-23
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:04.15
Contact details of provider: Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.20
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  3. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2004. "Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange," NBER Working Papers 11005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Schupp, Jürgen & von Rosenbladt, Bernhard & Wagner, Gert Georg, 2003. "A Nationwide Laboratory Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioural Experiments into Representative Surveys," CEPR Discussion Papers 3858, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Avner Ben-Ner & Famin Kong & Louis Putterman & Dan Magan, . "Reciprocity in a Two-Part Dictator Game," Working Papers 0902, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
  6. Clark, Kenneth & Sefton, Martin, 2001. "The Sequential Prisoner's Dilemma: Evidence on Reciprocation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 51-68, January.
  7. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  8. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Warm-Glow versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Framing on Cooperation in Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-21, February.
  9. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2002. "Why Social Preferences Matter -- The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation and Incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C1-C33, March.
  11. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  12. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  13. Smith, Vernon L., 2002. "Constructivist and Ecological Rationality in Economics," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2002-7, Nobel Prize Committee.
  14. Cox, J. & Friedman, D. & Gjerstad, S., 2006. "A Trackable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1181, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  15. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  16. Charness, Gary & Frechette, Guillaume R & Kagel, John H, 2002. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8qq4k3ph, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  17. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan, 2002. "Altruism, equity, and reciprocity in a gift-exchange experiment: an encompassing approach," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 203-231, August.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2003. "A Nation-Wide Laboratory. Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioral Experiments into Representative Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 866, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. Charness, Gary B, 2004. "Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8rp6b18c, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  20. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Trust in Large Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "THE HIDDEN COSTS AND RETURNS OF INCENTIVES — TRUST AND TRUSTWORTHINESS AMONG CEOs," Labor and Demography 0409012, EconWPA.
  22. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
  23. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  24. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  25. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  26. Andreoni,J. & Vesterlund,L., 1998. "Which is the fair sex? : Gender differences in altruism," Working papers 10, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Bornhorst, Fabian & Ichino, Andrea & Schlag, Karl & Winter, Eyal, 2004. "Trust and Trustworthiness Among Europeans: South-North Comparison," CEPR Discussion Papers 4378, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  30. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  31. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2000. "Who Trusts Others?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2646, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  32. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  33. Willinger, Marc & Keser, Claudia & Lohmann, Christopher & Usunier, Jean-Claude, 2003. "A comparison of trust and reciprocity between France and Germany: Experimental investigation based on the investment game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 447-466, August.
  34. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 1997. "The Moonlighting Game - An Experimental Study on Reciprocity and Retribution," Discussion Paper Serie B 415, University of Bonn, Germany.
  35. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
  36. Adriana D. Kugler & Gilles Saint-Paul, 2004. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Worker Flows in a World with Adverse Selection?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 553-584, July.
  37. repec:att:wimass:9309 is not listed on IDEAS
  38. Andreas Ortmann & John Fitzgerald & Carl Boeing, 2000. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History: A Re-examination," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 81-100, June.
  39. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
  40. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  41. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  42. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  43. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:04.15. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gaëlle Sarda)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.