"Social information sampling"
Trust and reciprocity are essential to establish and maintain beneficial cooperative interactions. In spite of these benefits of trusting, some people are less trustworthy than others. Trusting can therefore be thought of as a decision under uncertainty. To reduce uncertainty, it is often beneficial to gather information about another’s past behavior before deciding whether or not to trust them. I will present the results of a novel task in which people gathered information about trustee’s reciprocation histories before deciding whether or not to trust. We formulate and formally compare different information sampling strategies and show that sampling depends on the cost and social context in which adults gather information. In a developmental study, we also demonstrate that early-adolescents maintain different prior belief distributions over trustworthiness of others, which shapes how they gather information. At the end, I will discuss a novel project on collaborative information sampling in large state spaces.