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A man of his word? An experiment on gender differences in promise keeping

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  • Kleinknecht, Janina

Abstract

Promises and expectations play an important role in strategic environments, since cooperation often requires individuals to rely on informal commitments. Indeed, numerous experiments have already shown that promises are more than cheap talk. The motives for promise keeping can be rooted in social preferences, which have been demonstrated to differ for men and women. This paper systematically investigates gender differences in promise keeping based on the experimental design of Vanberg (2008). In particular, I analyze gender differences in the motives for promise keeping and the understanding of promises. Moreover, I compare the behavior of men and women in mixed and single gender interactions. I find no gender differences in the likelihood of giving promises, but promises raise expectations of women more than those of men. Women keep promises more often than men, although both, men and women, anticipate that a promise raises expectations on the part of its receiver. Moreover, the experiment reveals that there are no gender differences in the underlying motives for promise keeping. For men and women both, their own promise as well as the expectations of the receiver, matter.

Suggested Citation

  • Kleinknecht, Janina, 2019. "A man of his word? An experiment on gender differences in promise keeping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 251-268.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:168:y:2019:i:c:p:251-268
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.10.008
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Promises; Beliefs; Gender economics; Social values;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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