Cultures of Kindness: a Meta-analysis of Trust Game Experiments
Abstract: We collect data on trust and trustworthy behavior from eighty-four iterations of the Berg, Dickhaut, and McCabe Investment game (the “trust” game). We perform a meta-analysis of these games in order to identify the effect of experimental protocols and cross-country cultural differences on trust and trustworthiness. We find that approximately 40% of the variance in trust and 30% of the variance in trustworthiness is explained by changes to experimental protocols. We also find that cultural variables that are highly correlated with a country’s stock of social capital, such as ethnic fractionalization and income inequality, are most closely related to trustworthiness rather than trust. We use these findings to show that the negative relationship between diversity and social capital disappears as competitive free markets become more prevalent in a country.