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ORIGINAL ARTICLEThe Impact of Authority on Cooperation:A Cross-Cultural Examination of Systemic TrustP. Mitkidis&D. Xygalatas&N. Buttrick&M. Porubanova&P. LienardReceived: 4 August 2014 /Revised: 27 September 2014 /Accepted: 30 September 2014 /Published online: 7 October 2014#Springer International Publishing 2014AbstractIn this article, we examine the effects of authority on systemic trust in fourdifferent countries (the Czech Republic, Denmark, Mauritius, and the USA). We used amodified Trust Game to assess whether information about salient authority either in areligious or in a secular domain has the effect of enhancing trust in situations wheresocial information is limited. We found that patterns of behavior differ by country, withthe USA and the Czech Republic behaving similarly with relatively high trust forsecular authorities, medium trust for religious authorities, and low trust for non-authorities, and that Denmark and Mauritius behave similarly, with medium trust forsecular authorities, high trust for religious authorities and low trust for non-authorities.We discuss possible explanations involving how people use social information to makedecisions in situations of uncertainty.KeywordsTrust.Authority.Religion.Secular.Cross-cultural economic experimentAdaptive Human Behavior and Physiology (2015) 1:341357DOI 10.1007/s40750-014-0011-3P. Mitkidis:N. ButtrickCenter for Advanced Hindsight, Social Science Research Institute, Duke University, Durham, USAP. Mitkidis:D. XygalatasInteracting Minds Centre, Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Aarhus, DenmarkP. Mitkidis (*)Interdisciplinary Centre for Organizational Architecture, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmarke-mail: [email protected]D. XygalatasDepartment of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USAD. XygalatasLaboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech RepublicM. PorubanovaDepartment of Psychology, State University of New York at Farmingdale, Farmingdale, USAP. Lienard (*)Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USAe-mail: [email protected]
IntroductionEveryday interactions in modern state societies yield particular social situations whichpose many thorny challenges to human decision-making. A citizen must regularlyengage, randomly or systematically, with strangers about whom she lacks knowledgeof specific abilities, motivations and personality or character traits, and with whomfurther engagement will probably not be required. Social agents are also typicallyspecialized in very distinct fields of activity, which makes it hard to rely on onesown experience when interacting with others. However, many ordinary interactions donot consist in situations of social exchange involving mutual trust between individualshence they do not require much more than good coordination between self-interestedsocial agents. In organically structured and efficiently functioning complex societies,the coordination of anonymous agents, allowing for the spontaneous emergence of

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