J Econ Sci Assoc (2018) 4:1–14
Guilt averse or reciprocal? Looking at behavioral
motivations in the trust game
· Rudolf Kerschbamer
· Lionel Page
Received: 2 June 2016 / Revised: 20 May 2018 / Accepted: 21 May 2018 / Published online: 6 June 2018
© Economic Science Association 2018
Abstract For the trust game, recent models of belief-dependent motivations make
opposite predictions regarding the correlation between back transfers and second-
order beliefs of the trustor: while reciprocity models predict a negative correlation,
guilt-aversion models predict a positive one. This paper tests the hypothesis that the
inconclusive results in the previous studies investigating the reaction of trustees to
their beliefs are due to the fact that reciprocity and guilt aversion are behaviorally
relevant for diﬀerent subgroups and that their impact cancels out in the aggregate.
We ﬁnd little evidence in support of this hypothesis and conclude that type heteroge-
neity is unlikely to explain previous results.
Keywords Behavioral game theory · Experiment · Intention based preferences
JEL Classiﬁcation C25 · C70 · C91 · D63 · D64
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/
s4088 1-018-0051-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Lionel Page
School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology and QuBE, Brisbane,
Department of Economics, University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria