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Building Trust One Gift at a Time

This paper reports an experiment evaluating the effect of gift giving on building trust in a relationship. We have nested our explorations in the standard version of the investment game. Our gift treatment includes a dictator stage in which the trustee decides whether to give a gift to the trustor before both of them proceed to play the investment game. We observe that in such case the majority of trustees offer their endowment to trustors. Consequently, receiving a gift significantly increases the amounts sent by trustors when controlling for the differences in payoffs created by it. Trustees are, however, not better off by giving a gift as the increase in the amount sent by trustors is not large enough to offset the trustees’ loss associated with the cost of giving a gift. Our results indicate that a relationship which is initiated by gift giving leads to higher trust and efficiency but at the same time is probably not stable.

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Paper provided by University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 09/11.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 17 Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cbt:econwp:09/11
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  1. Steffen Huck & Gabriele K. Ruchala & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2007. "Pricing and Trust," Discussion Papers 07-04, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Andreoni,J., 2005. "Trust, reciprocity, and contract enforcement : experiments on satisfaction guaranteed," Working papers 7, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
  5. Ben-Ner, Avner & Putterman, Louis, 2009. "Trust, communication and contracts: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 106-121, May.
  6. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  7. Jim Andreoni & Larry Samuelson, 2003. "Building Rational Cooperation," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 666156000000000068,
  8. Juergen Bracht & Nick Feltovich, 2006. "Efficiency in the Trust Game: an Experimental Study of Preplay Contracting," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 06/154, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  9. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  10. Maroš Servátka & Steven Tucker & Radovan Vadovic, 2008. "Words Speak Louder Than Money," Working Papers in Economics 08/18, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  11. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  12. Servtka, Maros, 2009. "Separating reputation, social influence, and identification effects in a dictator game," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 197-209, February.
  13. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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