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Social Influence in Trustors’ Neighborhoods


  • Luigi Luini


  • Annmaria Nese


  • Patrizia Sbriglia



Economists have often analysed the impact that the spread of beliefs and behaviors have on the equilibrium and performance of markets. Recent experimental studies on peer pressure in groups of agents interacting in investment and gift exchange games (Mittone and Ploner, 2011, Gachter et al. 2010) have proved that the imitation of partners’ behaviors can have substantial effects on reciprocity, thus confirming that the effects of information also need to be studied in games where social preferences play a fundamental role. The aim of this paper is to ascertain whether trust is affected by contagion and herding in small groups of trustors who can observe each other’s choices over time. We account for three important factors of trustors’ preferences,namely: risk attitude, generosity and expected trustworthiness. Using our data we test the basic hypothesis that an individual's propensity to trust recipients in the Trust Game can be affected by the observed behavior of other trustors. Our results confirm that trust is affected by contagion effects. Furthermore, we find that specific types of agents (generous or untrusting) more often imitate the same type, when positioned in the same group. Finally, we find that untrusting individuals are less affected by their peers compared to generous individuals, and they imitate less even when positioned in groups of agents who have the same characteristics.

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  • Luigi Luini & Annmaria Nese & Patrizia Sbriglia, 2011. "Social Influence in Trustors’ Neighborhoods," Department of Economics University of Siena 626, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:626

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-735, May.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley, et al, 1992. "An Experimental Comparison of Dispute Rates in Alternative Arbitration Systems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(6), pages 1407-1433, November.
    3. Tamar Kugler & Edgar E. Kausel & Martin G. Kocher, 2012. "Are Groups more Rational than Individuals? A Review of Interactive Decision Making in Groups," CESifo Working Paper Series 3701, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Ananish Chaudhuri & Lata Gangadharan, 2007. "An Experimental Analysis of Trust and Trustworthiness," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 959-985, April.
    5. Charles N. Noussair & Charles R. Plott & Raymond G. Riezman, 2013. "An Experimental Investigation of the Patterns of International Trade," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 17, pages 299-328 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
    7. Servtka, Maros, 2009. "Separating reputation, social influence, and identification effects in a dictator game," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 197-209, February.
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    More about this item


    trust game; experiments; social influence; imitation;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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