Guilt Aversion Revisited: An Experimental Test of a New Model
34 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2011 Last revised: 17 Jan 2012
Date Written: November 7, 2010
In this paper, we experimentally investigate the guilt aversion hypothesis by using a trust game with pre-play communication. For this purpose, we first develop a new version of guilt aversion. It is shown that this new version provides a more refined equilibrium prediction than an existing version does. In addition, the new version is consistent with extant experimental results in the literature and thus cannot be rejected by any of them. Given these observations, we then design an experiment that can test the new as well as original versions of the guilt aversion hypothesis. In contrast to the prediction of both versions of the hypothesis, we find that the correlation between elicited beliefs and (trustful or trustworthy) behavior is almost zero even in an environment with pre-play communication. Thus, our experimental result provides a case against the guilt aversion hypothesis.
Keywords: Guilt aversion, trust, beliefs, communication, experiment
JEL Classification: C72, C91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation