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Identity changes and the efficiency of reputation systems

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  • Matthias Wibral

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Abstract

Reputation systems aim to induce honest behavior in online trade by providing information about past conduct of users. Online reputation, however, is not directly connected to a person, but only to the virtual identity of that person. Users can therefore shed a negative reputation by creating a new account. We study the effects of such identity changes on the efficiency of reputation systems. We compare two markets in which we exogenously vary whether sellers can erase their rating profile and start over as new sellers. Buyer trust and seller trustworthiness decrease significantly when sellers can erase their ratings. With identity changes, trust is particularly low towards new sellers since buyers cannot discriminate between truly new sellers and opportunistic sellers who changed their identity. Nevertheless, we observe positive returns on buyer investment under the reputation system with identity changes, and our evidence suggests that trustworthiness is higher than in the complete absence of a reputation system. Copyright Economic Science Association 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Wibral, 2015. "Identity changes and the efficiency of reputation systems," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(3), pages 408-431, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:18:y:2015:i:3:p:408-431
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-014-9410-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Zegners, Dainis, 2017. "Building an Online Reputation with Free Content: Evidence from the E-book Market," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168293, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:eee:soceco:v:74:y:2018:i:c:p:85-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Behnud Djawadi & Rene Fahr & Claus-Jochen Haake & Sonja Recker, 2017. "Maintaing vs. Milking Good Reputation when Customer Feedback is Inaccurate," Working Papers CIE 106, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.

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    Keywords

    Trust; Reputation; Identity change;

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