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Measuring Trust: Which Measure Can Be Trusted?

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  • Avner Ben-Ner

    ()

  • Freyr Halldorsson

    ()

Abstract

The study examines the relationship of various survey measures of trust and risk taking with trusting behavior in the trust or investment game (Berg, Dickhaut, & McCabe, 1995). We conduct a series of standard trust game experiments from which we derive the standard trust measure – amount sent. We also conduct trust games in which we allow subjects in the role of trustors to make proposals for what they should send and what their counterparts (trustees) should send back, and offer the possibility of asking for costly contracts to support agreements. We use trustors’ request for such contracts as a new operationalization of behavioral trust (not asking for a contract indicates more trusting than asking for one). We compare the two behavioral measures to survey measures of trust and risk preferences. Our results confirm that the amount sent in the trust game is related to common-sense survey measures of trust but not to any measures of risk preferences. In contrast, none of the survey measures predicts asking for a contract. In addition, we investigate the association between risk preferences, gender, personality, cognitive ability and other individual characteristics and trust. We find that male subjects send significantly more than female subjects; risk attitude, the big five personality traits, cognitive ability and other variables show only limited association with the amount sent and asking for a contract. In contrast, survey trust measures are explained well by such variables. JEL classification: C72, C91, D63

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File URL: http://www.legacy-irc.csom.umn.edu/RePEC/hrr/papers/0207.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus) in its series Working Papers with number 0207.

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Handle: RePEc:hrr:papers:0207

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Related research

Keywords: Trust; Trust game; Measurement;

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References

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  1. Gunnthorsdottir, Anna & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2002. "Using the Machiavellianism instrument to predict trustworthiness in a bargaining game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 49-66, February.
  2. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  3. Danielson, Anders & Holm, Hakan J, 2003. "Tropic Trust versus Nordic Trust: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania and Sweden," Working Papers 2003:6, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  4. Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L. & Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, . "A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining trust and trustworthiness by integrating behavioral experiments into representative surveys," IEW - Working Papers 141, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2003. "Trust, Risk and Betrayal," Working Paper Series rwp03-041, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Ben-Ner, Avner & Kong, Fanmin & Putterman, Louis, 2004. "Share and share alike? Gender-pairing, personality, and cognitive ability as determinants of giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 581-589, October.
  10. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  11. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
  12. Lazzarini, S. G. & Madalozzo, R. C & Artes, R. & Siqueira, J. O., 2004. "Measuring trust: An experiment in Brazil," Insper Working Papers wpe_42, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
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