Experimental Economics

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 81–100 | Cite as

Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History: A Re-examination

  • Andreas Ortmann
  • John Fitzgerald
  • Carl Boeing


Berg et al. (Games and Economic Behavior, 10, pp. 122–142, 1995) study trust and reciprocity in an investment setting. They find significant amounts of trust and reciprocity and conclude that trust is a guiding behavioral instinct (a “primitive” in their terminology). We modify the way information is presented to participants and, through a questionnaire, prompt strategic reasoning. To our surprise, none of our various treatments led to a reduction in the amount invested. Previously reported experimental results to the contrary did not survive replication. Our results suggest that those by Berg, Dickhaut, and McCabe are rather robust to changes in information presentation and strategic reasoning prompts. We discuss the implications of these findings.

experimental economics trust reciprocity information presentation prompting strategic reasoning experimental design experimental implementation 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Ortmann
    • 1
  • John Fitzgerald
    • 2
  • Carl Boeing
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Adaptive Behavior and CognitionMax Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsBowdoin CollegeBrunswickUSA

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