Experimental Economics

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 193–208

Decomposing trust and trustworthiness



What motivates people to trust and be trustworthy? Is trust solely “calculative,” based on the expectation of trustworthiness, and trustworthiness only reciprocity? Employing a within-subject design, we run investment and dictator game experiments in Russia, South Africa and the United States. Additionally, we measured risk preferences and expectations of return. Expectations of return account for most of the variance in trust, but unconditional kindness also matters. Variance in trustworthiness is mainly accounted for by unconditional kindness, while reciprocity plays a comparatively small role. There exists some heterogeneity in motivation but people behave surprisingly similarly in the three countries studied.


Trust Reciprocity Social preferences Cross-cultural experiments 


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Supplementary material

10683_2006_Article_9122.pdf (656 kb)
Supplementary material (656 KB)

Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Business SchoolBoston
  2. 2.Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridge
  3. 3.Analysis GroupBoston

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