Guilt Aversion Revisited: An Experimental Test of a New Model

34 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2011 Last revised: 17 Jan 2012

See all articles by Toshiji Kawagoe

Toshiji Kawagoe

Future University Hakodate

Yusuke Narita

Yale University - Department of Economics; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

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

Kawagoe, Toshiji and Narita, Yusuke, Guilt Aversion Revisited: An Experimental Test of a New Model (November 7, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Toshiji Kawagoe (Contact Author)

Future University Hakodate ( email )

116-2 Kamedanakano-cho
Hakodate Hokkaido, 041-8655
+81-138-34-6424 (Phone)
+81-138-34-6301 (Fax)

Yusuke Narita

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Yale University - Cowles Foundation ( email )

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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