Is Trust Self-Fulfilling? An Experimental Study

Oct 2001 | 76

Authors: Michael Bacharach, Gerardo A. Guerra, Daniel John Zizzo

A person is said to be `trust responsive` if she fulfils trust because she believes the truster trusts her. The experiment we report was designed to test for trust responsiveness and its robustness across payoff structures, and to disentangle it from other possible factors making for trustworthiness, including perceived kindness, perceived need, and inequality aversion. We elicit the truster`s confidence that the trustee will fulfil, and the trustee`s belief about the truster`s confidence after the trustee receives evidence relevant to this. We find evidence of strong trust responsiveness. We also find that perceptions of kindness and of need increase trust responsiveness, and that perceptions of kindness and need raise fulfilling rates only in conjunction with trust responsiveness.

JEL Codes: C79, C92, D84

Keywords: trust game, experiment, trust responsiveness, kindness, need to trust, belief elicitation

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