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Trust, Values and False Consensus

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  • Jeffrey Butler
  • Paola Giuliano
  • Luigi Guiso

Abstract

Trust beliefs are heterogeneous across individuals and, at the same time, persistent across generations. We investigate one mechanism yielding these dual patterns: false consensus. In the context of a trust game experiment, we show that individuals extrapolate from their own type when forming trust beliefs about the same pool of potential partners - i.e., more (less) trustworthy individuals form more optimistic (pessimistic) trust beliefs - and that this tendency continues to color trust beliefs after several rounds of game-play. Moreover, we show that one’s own type/trustworthiness can be traced back to the values parents transmit to their children during their upbringing. In a second closely-related experiment, we show the economic impact of mis-calibrated trust beliefs stemming from false consensus. Miscalibrated beliefs lower participants’ experimental trust game earnings by about 20 percent on average.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18460.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18460

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  1. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Berggren, Niclas & Nilsson, Therese, 2014. "Globalization and the Transmission of Social Values: The Case of Tolerance," Working Paper Series 1007, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

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