Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Erin Heerey


Trust decisions made in the social world have important consequences for decision makers, such as financial and/or social losses. Given the importance of these decisions, psychologists often ask what variables lead to trust. The most commonly studied predictor variable is the degree of similarity between participants and their interaction partners. Here we ask how a more visible cue, social reciprocity, affects trust decisions in concert with similarity. We use a “chat-room” style task to independently manipulate the degree to which participants are similar to a set of avatars that they believe are other players and the degree to which those avatars display social reciprocity. We then assess trust decisions in both financial and social domains. Our results show that together with similarity, social reciprocity is an important independent predictor of trust decisions. This work has implications for understanding how and when trust is allocated, as well how to facilitate successful interactions.