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A Cross-Cultural Understanding of the Role of Trust, Social Norms and Economic Context in Predicting Cooperation in Environmental Dilemmas
This research examines the influence of interactions between economic context, culture and specific trust on environmental dilemmas. In data collected across four cultures collectively representing the four combinations of high- or low-trust and loose or tight norms, participants were randomly assigned to one of three economic contexts (certain loss, certain gain, uncertain gain or loss). They then answered questions about generalized and specific trust prior to making a choice in an environmental dilemma which determined their earnings. Results showed specific trust, cultural norms and economic context were significant predictors of cooperation. Also, the three-way interaction between norms, specific trust and economic context was also a significant predictor. Although higher levels of specific trust elicit greater cooperation, the trust threshold is highest under certain loss and lowest under certain gain. Norm tightness also influences the trust threshold, where tight norms require greater specific trust for cooperation, making the interaction a three-way.