Digital Trust Games: An Experimental Study

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Abstract

An experimental study of the digital trust game in [2] is presented. The study consists of an initial survey followed by a four-part dynamic experiment investigating various aspects of digital trust decisions. Digital trust in online environments differs from its offline variants due to its unique characteristics such as near instantaneous communication, transient and impersonal nature of interactions, immediate access to opinions of others, and availability of high amount of (but often low quality) information. It is observed that while the game theory provides a suitable analytical framework for quantitative analysis of digital trust decisions, the model in [2] has its shortcomings. Firstly, the subjects do not seem to adopt an iterative best or gradient response strategy. They exhibit significant (mental) inertia and only respond to new information or significant situation changes. Secondly, they take into account signals from their social circle much more than aggregate signals such as average scores. Both of these results and additional insights gained have important implications for future game theoretic modeling efforts of digital trust.

This work is supported by Deutsche Telekom Laboratories. T. Alpcan was with Technical Univ. of Berlin and Deutsche Telekom Laboratories during this research.