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Trust, Communication and Contracts: An Experiment

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  • Avner Ben-Ner

    ()

  • Louis Putterman

    ()

Abstract

In the one-shot trust or investment game without opportunities for reputation formation or contracting, economic theory predicts no trusting because there is no incentive for trustworthiness. Under these conditions, theory predicts (a) no effect of pre-play communication, and (b) universal preference for moderate cost binding contracts over interacting without contracts. We introduce the opportunities to engage in pre-play communication and to enter binding or non-binding contracts, and find (a) communication increases trusting and trustworthiness, (b) contracts are largely unnecessary for trusting and trustworthy behaviors and are eschewed by many players, and (c) more trusting leads to higher earnings, and (d) both trustors and trustees favor “fair and efficient” proposals over the more unequal proposals predicted by theory.

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Paper provided by Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus) in its series Working Papers with number 0206.

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Handle: RePEc:hrr:papers:0206

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Keywords: trust game; trust; trustworthiness; reciprocity; commitment; communication. Comparative analysis of agency problems; Production of public goods;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Roman M. Sheremeta & Jingjing Zhang, 2013. "Three-Player Trust Game with Insider Communication," Working Papers 13-03, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  2. Cassar, Alessandra & Rigdon, Mary, 2011. "Trust and trustworthiness in networked exchange," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 282-303, March.
  3. Maroš Servátka & Steven Tucker & Radovan Vadovic, 2009. "Building Trust One Gift at a Time," Working Papers in Economics 09/11, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  4. Becchetti, Leonardo & Fiaschetti, Maurizio & Marini, Giancarlo, 2012. "Card Games and Financial Crises," AICCON Working Papers 115-2012, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  5. Ben-Ner, Avner & Putterman, Louis & Ren, Ting, 2011. "Lavish returns on cheap talk: Two-way communication in trust games," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-13, February.
  6. Maroš Servátka & Steven Tucker & Radovan Vadovič, 2011. "Words Speak Louder Than Money," Working Papers in Economics 11/13, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  7. Ben-Ner, Avner, 2013. "Preferences and organization structure: Toward behavioral economics micro-foundations of organizational analysis," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 87-96.
  8. Ben-Ner, Avner & McCall, Brian P. & Stephane, Massoud & Wang, Hua, 2009. "Identity and in-group/out-group differentiation in work and giving behaviors: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 153-170, October.
  9. Cappelen, Alexander W. & Hagen, Rune Jansen & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2012. "DO NON-ENFORCEABLE CONTRACTS MATTER? EVIDENCE FROM AN INTERNATIONAL LAB EXPERIMENT Department," Working Papers in Economics 16/12, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  10. Casari, Marco & Cason, Timothy N., 2013. "Explicit versus implicit contracts for dividing the benefits of cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 20-34.
  11. Leonardo Becchetti & Giacomo degli Antoni, 2009. "The Sources of Happiness: Evidence from the Investment Game," Econometica Working Papers wp13, Econometica.
  12. Eric Schniter & Roman M. Sheremeta & Timothy W. Shields, 2013. "Limitations to Signaling Trust with All or Nothing Investments," Working Papers 13-24, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  13. Vladimír Gazda & Marek Gróf & Július Horváth & Matúš Kubák & Tomáš Rosival, 2012. "Agent based model of a simple economy," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 209-221, October.
  14. Martin Dufwenberg & Maroš Servátka & Radovan Vadovič, 2012. "ABC on Deals," Working Papers in Economics 12/14, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  15. Ben-Ner, Avner & Halldorsson, Freyr, 2010. "Trusting and trustworthiness: What are they, how to measure them, and what affects them," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 64-79, February.
  16. Vogt, Nora & Reeson, Andrew F. & Bizer, Kilian, 2013. "Communication, competition and social gift exchange in an auction for public good provision," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 11-19.
  17. McEvily, Bill & Radzevick, Joseph R. & Weber, Roberto A., 2012. "Whom do you distrust and how much does it cost? An experiment on the measurement of trust," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 285-298.

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