Margit E. Oswald and Corina T. Ulshöfer

Cooperation and Distrust – a Contradiction?

Abstract: Trust is usually considered a prerequisite of cooperation in social dilemmas. Experimental studies show that people cooperate surprisingly often. However, this may happen because almost no risk from cooperation exists, and trust can be shallow. In daily life, trust is normally more evidence-based: that is, sufficient information has to be provided to allow the development of trust. The higher the risk resulting from cooperation, the more necessary such a collection of information becomes. During the phase of information gathering, a state of distrust, rather than a state of trust, may be evolutionarily functional. Experimental studies show that people ...

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