Trusting and trustworthiness: What are they, how to measure them, and what affects them

Avner Ben-Ner*, Freyr Halldorsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)


The study examines trust by investigating potential determinants (factors determined at birth and childhood) and correlates (various views and attitudes) of trusting and trustworthiness. We examine behavioral and survey measures and conclude that the amount sent in the trust game is a good, albeit partial and overreaching, measure of one facet of trust. Common survey measures of trusting capture well other facets of trusting. The proportion sent back in the trust game represents well trustworthiness in the specific context in which it was developed, an investment situation, but falls short in capturing other facets of trustworthiness. The Machiavellian scale appears to be a weak measure of any facets of trustworthiness. Gender is the primary determinant of investment-related facet of trusting, and personality is a strong determinant of other facets. One personality trait - agreeableness - explains investment-related trustworthiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-79
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Russell Sage Foundation for a grant to Ben-Ner and Louis Putterman. We are grateful to the editor and referees for extremely helpful comments, and to comments received at presentations at Cornell University, University of Minnesota Law School, and a SABE annual conference.

Other keywords

  • Measurement
  • Trust game
  • Trusting
  • Trustworthiness


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