IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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


  • Kleinknecht, Janina


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    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


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:168:y:2019:i:c:p:251-268. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.