Trust, Reciprocity, and Rules
17 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2018
Date Written: July 2018
Many economic interactions rely on trust and trust violations can have serious economic consequences. Simple minimum standard rules are attractive because they prevent egregious trust violations. However, they may undermine more trusting and reciprocal (trustworthy) behavior that otherwise would have occurred, leading to worse outcomes. In an experimental trust game, we test the efficacy of exogenously imposed minimum standard rules. Rules damage trust and reciprocity, reducing economic welfare. While sufficiently restrictive rules restore welfare, trust and reciprocity never return. Results indicate that participants are concerned about payoffs while also using the game to learn about trust and trustworthiness of others.
JEL Classification: C72, C90, D63, D64, L51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation