Taking, Punishment and Trust
Is a trusting person more or less likely to steal? Is a trusting person more or less likely to punish someone who steals? A great deal of research has examined how trust and social capital correlate with altruistic, reciprocal and punishing behaviours, but less research has been dedicated to understanding the roles of trust and social capital in peoples' choices between a strictly antisocial behaviour - like stealing - and generosity, or in a third party's choice to punish taking behaviour. Using a series of dictator games with third-party punishment and an option for a dictator to take, we show that trust plays a strong role in dictator behaviour and third-party behaviour. For dictators, trust correlates with the probability that the dictator refrains from self-interested behaviour and it correlates with the amount the dictator offers to their partner. For third parties, trust correlates with a third party's choice to punish self-interested behaviour and it correlates with the amount a third party spends on punishment. Social capital does not produce any such robust results.
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- Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-787, December.
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