We argue that trust can be incentivised by measures which increase the ability of trusters to protect themselves against risk. We work within the framework originally established by Berg, Dickhaut and McCabe (1995) in which trust is measured experimentally as the ability to generate reciprocity in response to an initial offer of money within a two-person game. An incentive is conveyed both by means of variations in the multiplier applied to the first player’s initial offer and by giving the first player the opportunity to insure themselves against the possibility that the second player will fail to reciprocate their initial offer. Measured trust is strongly responsive to both these incentives. Thus third parties have the ability to influence the outcome of the game, not only, as in the analysis of Charness et al (2008), by punishing failure to reciprocate and rewarding ‘good’ initial offers, but also by offering protection which strengthens the first player’s risk efficacy, or ratio of assets to risk.
Experimental economics; Game theory; Risk; Reciprocity
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