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Publication Detail
The virtual maze: A behavioural tool for measuring trust.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Hale J, Payne MEM, Taylor KM, Paoletti D, Hamilton AFDC
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    1, 53
  • Journal:
    Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)
  • Medium:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Addresses:
    a University College London.
Trusting another person may depend on our level of generalised trust in others, as well as perceptions of that specific person's trustworthiness. However, many studies measuring trust outcomes have not discussed generalised versus specific trust. To measure specific trust in others, we developed a novel behavioural task. Participants navigate a virtual maze and make a series of decisions about how to proceed. Before each decision, they may ask for advice from two virtual characters they have briefly interviewed earlier. We manipulated the virtual characters' trustworthiness during the interview phase and measured how often participants approached and followed advice from each character. We also measured trust through ratings and an investment game. Across three studies we found participants followed advice from a trustworthy character significantly more than an untrustworthy character, demonstrating the validity of the maze task. Behaviour in the virtual maze reflected specific trust rather than generalised trust, whereas the investment game picked up on generalised trust as well as specific trust. Our data suggests the virtual maze task may provide an alternative behavioural approach to measuring specific trust in future research, and we demonstrate how the task may be used in traditional laboratories.
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