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Whom do you distrust and how much does it cost? An experiment on the measurement of trust

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  • McEvily, Bill
  • Radzevick, Joseph R.
  • Weber, Roberto A.

Abstract

We advance the measurement of trust in economics in two ways. First, we highlight the importance of clearly identifying the target of trust, particularly for obtaining concordance between attitudinal and behavioral measures of trust. Second, we introduce a novel behavioral measure of (dis)trust, based on individualsʼ willingness to pay to avoid being vulnerable to the target of trust. We conduct an experiment in which we vary the target of trust among passersby at several locations around a city, measuring both behavioral distrust and trust attitudes towards these varying targets. We find that subjects discriminate based on perceived characteristics of different targets in determining whether to trust, in a manner consistent with trust elicited using attitudinal measures and with actual trustworthiness. Risk aversion and altruism do not correlate highly with our measure of distrust.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:74:y:2012:i:1:p:285-298
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2011.06.011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Falk, Armin & Zehnder, Christian, 2013. "A city-wide experiment on trust discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 15-27.
    2. Ambec, Stefan & Garapin, Alexis & Muller, Laurent & Rahali, Bilel, 2016. "Trading off between equity and efficiency in dictator and trust games," TSE Working Papers 16-718, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. Meier, Stephan & Stephenson, Matthew, 2015. "Culture of Trust and Division of Labor," IZA Discussion Papers 8974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Gylfason, Haukur Freyr & Olafsdottir, Katrin, 2017. "Does Gneezy's cheap talk game measure trust?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 143-148.
    5. Fehrler, Sebastian & Przepiorka, Wojtek, 2016. "Choosing a partner for social exchange: Charitable giving as a signal of trustworthiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 157-171.
    6. Giuseppe Albanese & Guido de Blasio & Paolo Sestito, 2013. "Trust and preferences: evidence from survey data," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 911, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Roosen, J. & Bieberstein, A. & Blanchemanche, S. & Goddard, E. & Marette, S. & Vandermoere, F., 2015. "Trust and willingness to pay for nanotechnology food," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 75-83.
    8. van Hoorn, Andre, 2016. "Trust and Signals in Workplace Organization: Evidence from Job Autonomy Differentials between Immigrant Groups," MPRA Paper 67362, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trust; Trustworthiness; Altruism; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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