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Eliciting motives for trust and reciprocity by attitudinal and behavioural measures

  • Francesco Farina


  • Niall O'Higgins


  • Patrizia Sbriglia


The intention to “invest” in the Trust Game in extensive form revealed by a move could conceal different motivations. Whether the motive hidden beneath the manifest behaviour of the first mover is the desire to invest in a relationship of mutual advantage with the trustee or the desire to be good to him independently from his own final payoff, remains an unsettled question. The question then is how to identify the motive which is actually at work, out of the two possible motives embedded in the trust game: 1) an “investment” motive - conditional cooperation is a way to express the expectation of reciprocal behaviour; and/or, 2) an altruistic motive - what may appear as an “investment” actually conceals a social preferences, that is the intention to gratuitously favour the other player. In this paper we attempt to elicit the true motive underlying the behaviour of each of the two players and suggest that the most informative utilization of surveys in this regard goes beyond the simple comparison between answers to a questionnaire and actual behaviour. The statistical treatment of players’ behaviour in the sessions, by means of attitudes as shown by their answers, allows a deeper understanding of the players’ behaviour and a better evaluation of the experimental results. Therefore, the objective of disentangling the strategic motive (the intention of the trustor to elicit benevolence from the trustee, and the trustee interest in reciprocating) from the altruistic motive will be pursued by establishing a correlation between the attitudinal and the behavioural measures of trust and trustworthiness. In this paper, we will then be using the “words” of answers to a questionnaire in order to more deeply understand the motivations behind “actions”.

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Paper provided by University of Siena in its series Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena with number 021.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:usi:labsit:021
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  1. 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.
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  14. 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.
  15. Francesco Farina & Patrizia Sbriglia, 2008. "Conditional cooperation in a sequential move game," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 55(1), pages 149-165, April.
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