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Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination

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  • Naef, Michael

    ()
    (University of London)

  • Schupp, Jürgen

    ()
    (DIW Berlin)

Abstract

Trust is a concept that has attracted significant attention in economic theory and research within the last two decades: it has been applied in a number of contexts and has been investigated both as an explanatory and as a dependent variable. In this paper, we explore the questions of what exactly is measured by the diverse survey-derived scales and experiments claiming to measure trust, and how these different measures are related. Using nationally representative data, we test a commonly used experimental measure of trust for robustness to a number of interferences, finding it to be mostly unsusceptible to stake size, the extent of strategy space, the use of the strategy method, and the characteristics of the experimenters. Inspired by criticism of the widespread trust question used in many surveys, we created a new, improved survey trust scale consisting of three short statements. We show that the dimension of this scale is distinct from trust in institutions and trust in known others. Our new scale is a valid and reliable measure of trust in strangers. The scale is valid in the sense that it correlates with trusting behaviour in the experiment. Both survey and experimental measure correlate with related factors such as risk aversion, being an entrepreneur or a shareholder. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the survey measure's test-retest reliability (six weeks) is high. The experimental measure of trust is, on the other hand, not significantly correlated with trust in institutions nor with trust in known others. We conclude that the experimental measure of trust refers not to trust in a general sense, but specifically to trust in strangers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4087.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4087

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Keywords: representativity; survey; experiment; trust; SOEP;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Omar Sene, 2012. "Trust as a Proxy for the Ability to Produce Local Public Goods: Testing Different Measures," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 12041, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  2. Marco Caliendo & Frank M. Fossen & Alexander S. Kritikos, 2010. "Trust, Positive Reciprocity, and Negative Reciprocity: Do These Traits Impact Entrepreneurial Dynamics?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 348, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Berggren, Niclas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2009. "Is the Importance of Religion in Daily Life Related to Social Trust? Cross-Country and Cross-State Comparisons," Ratio Working Papers 142, The Ratio Institute.
  4. Ernst Fehr, 2008. "On the Economics and Biology of Trust," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 154, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Berggren, Niclas & Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Hellström, Jörgen, 2012. "Social trust and central-bank independence," HUI Working Papers 66, HUI Research.
  6. Costa-Gomes, Miguel A. & Huck, Steffen & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2010. "Beliefs and Actions in the Trust Game: Creating Instrumental Variables to Estimate the Causal Effect," IZA Discussion Papers 4709, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Moritz Heß & Christian von Scheve & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2013. "Sind Politiker risikofreudiger als das Volk?: Eine empirische Studie zu Mitgliedern des Deutschen Bundestags," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 545, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  8. Michael Weinhardt & Jürgen Schupp, 2011. "Multi-Itemskalen im SOEP Jugendfragebogen," Data Documentation 60, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Johnson, Noel D. & Mislin, Alexandra A., 2011. "Trust games: A meta-analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 865-889.
  10. Özcan, Burcu & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2011. "Social trust and human development," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 753-762.

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