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Strategic Use of Trust

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Abstract

While most of the previous literature interprets trust as an action, we adopt a view that trust is represented by a belief that the other party will return a fair share. The agent’s action is then a commitment device that signals this belief. In this paper we propose and test a conjecture that economic agents use trust strategically. That is, the agents have incentives to inflate the perceived level of trust (the signal) in order to induce a more favorable outcome for themselves. In the experiment we study the behavior of subjects in a modified investment game which is played sequentially and simultaneously. While the sequential treatment allows for strategic use of trust, in the simultaneous treatment the first mover’s action is not observed and hence does not signal her belief. In line with our prediction we find that first movers send significantly more in the sequential treatment than in simultaneous. Moreover, second movers reward trusting action, but only if it is maximal. We also find that signaling with trust enhances welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Maroš Servátka & Steven Tucker & Radovan Vadovic, 2008. "Strategic Use of Trust," Working Papers in Economics 08/11, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbt:econwp:08/11
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    File URL: http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/RePEc/cbt/econwp/0811.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Servátka, Maroš & Tucker, Steven & Vadovič, Radovan, 2011. "Words speak louder than money," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 700-709.
    2. Costa-Gomes, Miguel A. & Huck, Steffen & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2014. "Beliefs and actions in the trust game: Creating instrumental variables to estimate the causal effect," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 298-309.
    3. Maroš Servátka & Steven Tucker & Radovan Vadovič, 2011. "Building Trust—One Gift at a Time," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1-22, September.
    4. Sonsino, Doron & Shifrin, Max & Lahav, Eyal, 2016. "Disentangling trust from risk-taking: Triadic approach," MPRA Paper 80095, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experimental Economics; Trust; Beliefs;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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