IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cwl/cwldpp/1931.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Promises and Expectations

Author

Abstract

We investigate why people keep their promises in the absence of external enforcement mechanisms and reputational effects. In a controlled laboratory experiment we show that exogenous variation of second-order expectations (promisors' expectations about promisees' expectations that the promise will be kept) leads to a significant change in promisor behavior. We provide clean evidence that a promisor's aversion to disappointing a promisee's expectation leads her to keep her promise. We propose a simple theory of lexicographic promise keeping that is supported by our results and nests the findings of previous contributions as special cases.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Ederer & Alexander Stremitzer, 2013. "Promises and Expectations," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1931, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Mar 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1931
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d19/d1931.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
    2. Beck, Adrian & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Qiu, Jianying & Sutter, Matthias, 2013. "Shaping beliefs in experimental markets for expert services: Guilt aversion and the impact of promises and money-burning options," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 145-164.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    4. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2003. "Promises & Partnership," Research Papers in Economics 2003:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    5. Charles Bellemare & Alexander Sebald & Martin Strobel, 2011. "Measuring the willingness to pay to avoid guilt: estimation using equilibrium and stated belief models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 437-453, April.
    6. Avinash Dixit, 2009. "Governance Institutions and Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 5-24, March.
    7. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
    8. repec:eee:gamebe:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:161-178 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Tjøtta, Sigve & Torsvik, Gaute, 2010. "Testing guilt aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 95-107, January.
    10. Zev J. Eigen, 2012. "When and Why Individuals Obey Contracts: Experimental Evidence of Consent, Compliance, Promise, and Performance," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 67-93.
    11. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2000. "Hot vs. Cold: Sequential Responses and Preference Stability in Experimental Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(3), pages 227-238, March.
    12. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, April.
    13. Khalmetski, Kiryl & Ockenfels, Axel & Werner, Peter, 2015. "Surprising gifts: Theory and laboratory evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 163-208.
    14. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
    15. Ederer, Florian & Stremitzer, Alexander, 2017. "Promises and expectations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 161-178.
    16. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2010. "Bare promises: An experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 281-283, May.
    17. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1607-1636, September.
    18. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Kuhn, Michael A., 2012. "Experimental methods: Between-subject and within-subject design," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 1-8.
    19. Reuben, Ernesto & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2009. "Is mistrust self-fulfilling?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 89-91, August.
    20. Casari, Marco & Cason, Timothy N., 2009. "The strategy method lowers measured trustworthy behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 157-159, June.
    21. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
    22. Battigalli, Pierpaolo & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2009. "Dynamic psychological games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 1-35, January.
    23. repec:cup:apsrev:v:86:y:1992:i:02:p:404-417_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Clive Bull, 1987. "The Existence of Self-Enforcing Implicit Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(1), pages 147-159.
    25. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
    26. 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.
    27. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    28. James A. Mirrlees, 1976. "The Optimal Structure of Incentives and Authority Within an Organization," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 105-131, Spring.
    29. Guerra, Gerardo & John Zizzo, Daniel, 2004. "Trust responsiveness and beliefs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 25-30, September.
    30. Ismayilov, H. & Potters, J.J.M., 2012. "Promises as Commitments," Discussion Paper 2012-064, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    31. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
    32. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
    33. Christoph Vanberg, 2008. "Why Do People Keep Their Promises? An Experimental Test of Two Explanations -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1467-1480, November.
    34. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel & André Schmelzer, 2017. "Committing the English and the Continental Way – An Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2017_16, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. repec:eee:gamebe:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:161-178 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jérôme Hergueux & Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Jason Shogren, 2016. "Leveraging the Honor Code: Public Goods Contributions under Oath," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01379060, HAL.
    4. Pelligra, Vittorio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2016. "Responding to (Un)Reasonable Requests," IZA Discussion Papers 10189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Peeters, Ronald & Vorsatz, Marc & Walzl, Markus, 2015. "Beliefs and truth-telling: A laboratory experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1-12.
    6. Ederer, Florian & Stremitzer, Alexander, 2017. "Promises and expectations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 161-178.
    7. Alexander Morell, 2014. "The Short Arm of Guilt: Guilt Aversion Plays Out More Across a Short Social Distance," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2014_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Dec 2016.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Promises; Expectations; Beliefs; Contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:cwl:cwldpp:1931. 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: (Matthew Regan). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cowleus.html .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.