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Guilt Aversion Revisited: An Experimental Test of a New Model

Toshiji Kawagoe and Yusuke Narita
Sun, 2010-11-07
 In this paper, we experimentally investigate the guilt aversion hypothesis using a trust game with hidden action and pre-play communication. For this purpose, we develop a new, modified version of guilt aversion. It is shown that this modified version is consistent with all extant experimental results in the literature and cannot be rejected by any of them. We then design an experiment that can test the modified version as well as the original version of the guilt aversion hypothesis. In contrast to the prediction of the hypothesis, it is found that the correlation between elicited beliefs and (trustful or trustworthy) behavior is almost zero even in an environment with pre-play communication. Thus, our result provides a clear case against the guilt aversion hypothesis.