How to trust a perfect stranger: predicting initial trust behavior from resting-state brain-electrical connectivity


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Abstract

Reciprocal exchanges can be understood as the updating of an initial belief about a partner. This initial level of trust is essential when it comes to establishing cooperation with an unknown partner, as cooperation cannot arise without a minimum of trust not justified by previous successful exchanges with this partner. Here we demonstrate the existence of a representation of the initial trust level before an exchange with a partner has occurred. Specifically, we can predict the Investor’s initial investment—i.e. his initial level of trust toward the unknown trustee in Round 1 of a standard 10-round Trust Game—from resting-state functional connectivity data acquired several minutes before the start of the Trust Game. Resting-state functional connectivity is, however, not significantly associated with the level of trust in later rounds, potentially mirroring the updating of the initial belief about the partner. Our results shed light on how the initial level of trust is represented. In particular, we show that a person’s initial level of trust is, at least in part, determined by brain electrical activity acquired well before the beginning of an exchange.

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