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Coleman's Hypothesis on trusting behaviour and a remark on meta-studies

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  • Friedel Bolle
  • Jessica Kaehler

Abstract

Coleman (1990) describes 'calculative trust'. He states that, in order to trust, the value of trust has to be larger than the value of mistrust. So if subjects have (not personally but on average) rational expectations about the trustworthiness of their transaction partners, we should expect the frequency of trust to increase with the average net profitability of trust. In a meta-study of trust experiments, Coleman's Hypothesis could not be confirmed while, in our own experiment with a wider parameter range, it is supported. We explain this finding by the parameter choices of experimenters. They choose pay-off parameters resulting in situations where decisions are 'difficult', i.e. to make the alternatives 'trusting' and 'non-trusting' seem equally profitable. Thus, such experiments are concentrated on a specific subspace of parameters and are inadequate for certain meta-studies.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 13 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 469-483

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:13:y:2006:i:4:p:469-483

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Related research

Keywords: trust; reciprocity; experimental economics; meta-studies; representative design; experimenter bias;

References

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  1. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives-Trust and Trustworthiness Among CEOs," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 743-771, 09.
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  7. Anderhub, Vital & Güth, Werner & Engelmann, Dirk, 1999. "An experimental study of the repeated trust game with incomplete information," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1999,97, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  8. Willinger, Marc & Keser, Claudia & Lohmann, Christopher & Usunier, Jean-Claude, 2003. "A comparison of trust and reciprocity between France and Germany: Experimental investigation based on the investment game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 447-466, August.
  9. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  10. Eckel, Catherine C. & Wilson, Rick K., 2004. "Is trust a risky decision?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 447-465, December.
  11. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Bolle, Friedel & Kaehler, Jessica, 2007. "Experimenters' choices of trust experiments and their consequence for meta-studies," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 865-874, December.

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