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Beliefs and Actions in the Trust Game: Creating Instrumental Variables to Estimate the Causal Effect

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Author Info

  • Costa-Gomes, Miguel A.

    ()
    (University of Aberdeen)

  • Huck, Steffen

    ()
    (University College London)

  • Weizsäcker, Georg

    ()
    (DIW Berlin)

Abstract

In many economic contexts, an elusive variable of interest is the agent's expectation about relevant events, e.g. about other agents' behavior. Recent experimental studies as well as surveys have asked participants to state their beliefs explicitly, but little is known about the causal relation between beliefs and other behavioral variables. This paper discusses the possibility of creating exogenous instrumental variables for belief statements, by shifting the probabilities of the relevant events. We conduct trust game experiments where the amount sent back by the second player (trustee) is exogenously varied by a random process, in a way that informs only the first player (trustor) about the realized variation. The procedure allows detecting causal links from beliefs to actions under plausible assumptions. The IV estimates indicate a significant causal effect, comparable to the connection between beliefs and actions that is suggested by OLS analyses.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4709.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4709

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Related research

Keywords: social capital; trust game; instrumental variables; belief elicitation;

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Cited by:
  1. Tobias Regner & Gerhard Riener, 2011. "Motivational Cherry Picking," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-029, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  2. Bracht, Jürgen & Regner, Tobias, 2013. "Moral emotions and partnership," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 313-326.
  3. Trautmann, S.T. & Kuilen, G. van de, 2011. "Belief Elicitation: A Horse Race among Truth Serums," Discussion Paper 2011-117, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Francesco Farina & Gianluca Grimalda, 2011. "A cross-country experimental comparison of preferences for redistribution," Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena 0211, Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena.
  5. Karl Schlag & James Tremewan & Joel van der Weele, 2014. "A Penny for Your Thoughts:A Survey of Methods for Eliciting Beliefs," Vienna Economics Papers 1401, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.

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