Can Observers Predict Trustworthiness?

Michele Belot, V. Bhaskar, Jeroen van de Ven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate whether experimental subjects can predict behavior in a prisoner's dilemma played on a TV show. Subjects report probabilistic beliefs that a player cooperates, before and after the players communicate. Subjects correctly predict that women and players who make a voluntary promise are more likely to cooperate. They are able to distinguish truth from lies when a player is asked about her intentions by the host. Subjects are to some extent able to predict behavior; their beliefs are 7 percentage points higher for cooperators than for defectors. We also study their Bayesian updating. Beliefs do not satisfy the martingale property and display mean reversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-259
Number of pages14
JournalThe Review of Economics and Statistics
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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