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Trust is Heritable, Whereas Distrust is Not

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(27):7007-7012, 2017

15 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2017  

Martin Reimann

University of Southern California

Oliver Schilke

University of Arizona

Karen S. Cook

Stanford University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: July 3, 2017

Abstract

Why do people distrust others in social exchange? To what degree, if at all, is distrust subject to genetic influences, and thus possibly heritable, and to what degree is it nurtured by families and immediate peers who encourage young people to be vigilant and suspicious of others? Answering these questions could provide fundamental clues about the sources of individual differences in the disposition to distrust, including how they may differ from the sources of individual differences in the disposition to trust. In this article, we report the results of a study of monozygotic and dizygotic female twins who were asked to decide either how much of a counterpart player’s monetary endowment they wanted to take from their counterpart (i.e., distrust) or how much of their own monetary endowment they wanted to send to their counterpart (i.e., trust). Our results demonstrate that although the disposition to trust is explained to some extent by heritability but not by shared socialization, the disposition to distrust is explained by shared socialization but not by heritability. The sources of distrust are therefore distinct from the sources of trust in many ways.

Keywords: trust, distrust, behavioral genetics, cooperation, experiments

Suggested Citation

Reimann, Martin and Schilke, Oliver and Cook, Karen S., Trust is Heritable, Whereas Distrust is Not (July 3, 2017). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(27):7007-7012, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3069606

Martin Reimann

University of Southern California ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Oliver Schilke (Contact Author)

University of Arizona ( email )

1130 E. Helen St.
McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Karen Cook

Stanford University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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