Whom to Trust?:
Choice of partner in a trust game.



Catherine C. Eckel
Department of Economics (0316)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Email: eckelc@vt.edu

Rick K. Wilson
Department of Political Science
Rice University
Houston, TX
Email: rkw@rice.edu




We examine trusting behavior when subjects choose between two partners labeled with friendly or unfriendly icons. Subjects play a limited trust game: at the first node, player 1 chooses whether to trust; at the second, player 2 decides whether to reciprocate. Parameters of the game vary the risk and rewards to trust and reciprocity. Subjects prefer friendlier partners, and trust is higher than in similar games without partner choice. Game structure affects trust and reciprocity. More risk-averse subjects avoid riskier games. Survey measures of trustworthiness and altruism affect reciprocity, but not trust. Women are less likely to trust than men.

JEL codes: C91, Z13

Key words: trust, reciprocity, risk, altruism, trustworthiness, laboratory experiment