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Understanding Trust

  • Sapienza, Paola
  • Toldra Simats, Anna
  • Zingales, Luigi

Several papers study the effect of trust by using the answer to the World Values Survey (WVS) question “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” to measure the level of trust. Glaeser et al. (2000) question the validity of this measure by showing that it is not correlated with senders’ behaviour in the standard trust game, but only with his trustworthiness. By using a large sample of German households, Fehr et al. (2003) find the opposite result: WVS-like measures of trust are correlated with the sender’s behaviour, but not with its trustworthiness. In this paper we resolve this puzzle by recognizing that trust has two components: a belief-based one and a preference based one. While the sender behaviour’s reflects both, we show that WVS-like measures capture mostly the belief-based component, while questions on past trusting behaviour are better at capturing the preference component of trust.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6462.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6462
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:3:p:817-868 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2003. "A Nation-Wide Laboratory. Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioral Experiments into Representative Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 866, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:817-869 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:811-846 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:3:p:817-868 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
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  10. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
  11. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  12. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2002. "People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes," CEPR Discussion Papers 3588, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
  14. Vyrastekova, J. & Onderstal, A.M., 2005. "The Trust Game Behind the Veil of Ignorance : A Note on Gender Differences," Discussion Paper 2005-96, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  15. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  16. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:817-869 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Schupp, Jürgen & von Rosenbladt, Bernhard & Wagner, Gert Georg, 2003. "A Nationwide Laboratory Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioural Experiments into Representative Surveys," CEPR Discussion Papers 3858, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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