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Representative trust and reciprocity: Prevalence and determinants

by Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, David Huffman, Uwe Sunde
Economic Inquiry ()

Abstract

This paper provides evidence about the determinants of trust and reciprocal inclinations, that is, a tendency for people to respond in kind to hostile or kind actions, in a representative setting. We investigate the prevalence of reciprocity in the population, the correlation between trust and positive and negative reciprocal inclinations within person, the individual determinants of reciprocity, and the relationship with psychological measures of personality. We find that most people state reciprocal inclinations, in particular in terms of positive reciprocity, as well as substantial heterogeneity in the degree of trust and reciprocity. Trust and positive reciprocity are only weakly correlated, while trust and negative reciprocity exhibit a negative correlation. In terms of determinants, being female and increasing age are associated with stronger positive and weaker negative reciprocal tendencies. Taller people are more positively reciprocal, but height has no impact on negative reciprocity. Psychological traits also affect trust and reciprocity.

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