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Does Competition Increase Trust?

Joseph Henrich: Adding an element of intergroup competition increases people’s willingness to contribute money to collaborative projects — greater cooperation — even when interactions are anonymous and occur only once. These laboratory studies have also confirmed that people’s trust, as measured by the Trust Question, goes up after experiencing the greater cooperativeness fostered by intergroup competition. This line of research suggests that intergroup competition, which is embedded in many of our modern social, economic, and political structures, may provide an unappreciated social dynamic that helps create or sustain high levels of impersonal prosociality — trust, fairness, honesty, and cooperation with strangers.

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