Article | Experimental Economics | September 2006

Decomposing Trust and Trustworthiness

by Nava Ashraf, Iris Bohnet and Nikita Piankov


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.

Keywords: Trust; Change;


Ashraf, Nava, Iris Bohnet, and Nikita Piankov. "Decomposing Trust and Trustworthiness." Experimental Economics 9, no. 3 (September 2006): 193–208.