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Lavish Returns on Cheap Talk: Non-binding Communication in a Trust Experiment

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Abstract

We let subjects interact with anonymous partners in trust (investment) games with and without one of two kinds of pre-play communication: numerical (tabular) only, and verbal and numerical. We find that either kind of pre-play communication increases trusting, trustworthiness, or both, in inter-subject comparisons, but that the inclusions of verbal communication generates both a larger effect and one that is robust across both inter-subject and intra-subject comparisons. In all conditions, trustors earn more when they invest more of their endowment, trustors and trustees gravitate to "fair and efficient" interactions, and the majority of trustees adhere to their commitments, whether explicit or implicit. Finally, we study trusting and trustworthiness in the sense of adhering to agreements, and we find that both are enhanced when the parties can use words, and especially when an agreement is reached with words and not only with the exchange of numerical proposals.

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Paper provided by Brown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2007-15.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2007-15

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Postal: Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

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Cited by:
  1. Mary Rigdon, 2005. "Trust and Reciprocity in Incentive Contracting," Experimental 0511007, EconWPA.
  2. Belot, Michèle & Bhaskar, V. & van de Ven, Jeroen, 2010. "Promises and cooperation: Evidence from a TV game show," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 396-405, March.
  3. Charness, Gary B & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2008. "Broken Promises: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6836m74q, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao, 2011. "Classification of natural language messages using a coordination game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 1-14, March.
  5. Avner Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman, . "Trust, Communication and Contracts: An Experiment," Working Papers 0206, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
  6. Bochet, Olivier & Putterman, Louis, 2009. "Not just babble: Opening the black box of communication in a voluntary contribution experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 309-326, April.

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