What if living in a relatively trustworthy society was sufficient to blindly trust strangers? In this paper we interpret generalized trust as a learning process and analyse the trust game paradox in light of the replicator dynamics. Given that trust inevitably implies doubts about others, we assume incomplete information and study the dynamics of trust in buyer-supplier purchase transactions. Considering a world made of “good” and “bad” suppliers, we show that the trust game admits a unique evolutionarily stable strategy: buyers may trust strangers if, on the whole, it is not too risky to do so. Examining the situation where some players may play, either as trustor or as trustee, we show that this result is robust.
Learning to trust strangers: an evolutionary perspective
14 January 2014