One of the major challenges that actors in economic exchange relations face today concerns dealing with defection and overcoming the erosion of trust and cooperation that may result from a transgression. As transgressions in these relations usually entail a monetary loss for the victim, a common restorative approach involves providing a financial compensation to the victim. This research examines whether compensations that were provided voluntarily (rather than forced) would promote more trust among victims. In contrast to standard economic theory, we predict that individual differences exist that determine the degree to which victims are susceptible towards information about how the financial compensation is delivered in their decision to trust and cooperate again. Experimental data from a trust game confirmed our hypotheses by showing that whereas receiving a voluntary compensation from the transgressor communicates more repentance to victims than when this compensation was imposed, particularly people with a low tendency to forgive discount this repentance in their decision to trust again.

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Keywords Decision making, Economic exchanges, Financial compensations, Forgiveness, Trust, Trust game
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Series ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Journal Personality and Individual Differences
Desmet, P.T.M, de Cremer, D, & van Dijk, E. (2011). Trust recovery following voluntary or forced financial compensations in the trust game: The role of trait forgiveness. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(3), 267–273. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.05.027