Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Who Shall I Trust? Trust as a Mediator Between Identity Salience and Cooperative Behavior

Opitz, Lena
van Dick, Rolf
Pages: 50 - 64
ISSN-Print: 1439-2917
ISSN-Online: 2194-072X
Year: 2014

This study aimed at exploring the role of trust as a mediating process in the relationship between group identity salience and cooperative behavior. Participants from two academic subjects (psychology and economics, respectively) had to make decisions in two cooperation games with an unknown partner from either their own or the other study program, respectively, to reflect conditions of shared vs. unshared identity. Results confirmed earlier findings that participants cooperated more when they shared an identity with their partner. Extending previous research, we found that depersonalized trust (i.e. perceived trust to the unknown cooperation partner) mediated the effect – even when controlling for generalized trust. Shared identity thus increases depersonalized trust, which in turn leads to more cooperative behavior. We link our research to the neuroscience approach and we provide directions for future research in (social) neuroeconomics.