Trust and reciprocity: Are effort and money equivalent?

Iris Vilares*, Gregory Dam, Konrad Kording

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Trust and reciprocity facilitate cooperation and are relevant to virtually all human interactions. They are typically studied using trust games: one subject gives (entrusts) money to another subject, which may return some of the proceeds (reciprocate). Currently, however, it is unclear whether trust and reciprocity in monetary transactions are similar in other settings, such as physical effort. Trust and reciprocity of physical effort are important as many everyday decisions imply an exchange of physical effort, and such exchange is central to labor relations. Here we studied a trust game based on physical effort and compared the results with those of a computationally equivalent monetary trust game. We found no significant difference between effort and money conditions in both the amount trusted and the quantity reciprocated. Moreover, there is a high positive correlation in subjects' behavior across conditions. This suggests that trust and reciprocity may be character traits: subjects that are trustful/trustworthy in monetary settings behave similarly during exchanges of physical effort. Our results validate the use of trust games to study exchanges in physical effort and to characterize inter-subject differences in trust and reciprocity, and also suggest a new behavioral paradigm to study these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17113
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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