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Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination

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  • Michael Naef
  • Jürgen Schupp

Abstract

Trust is a concept that has attracted - significant attention in economic theory and research within the last two decades: it has been applied in a number of contexts and has been investigated both as an explanatory and as a dependent variable. In this paper, we explore the questions of what exactly is measured by the diverse survey-derived scales and experiments claiming to measure trust, and how these different measures are related. Using nationally representative data, we test a commonly used experimental measure of trust for robustness to a number of interferences, finding it to be mostly unsusceptible to stake size, the extent of strategy space, the use of the strategy method, and the characteristics of the experimenters. Inspired by criticism of the widespread trust question used in many surveys, we created a new, improved survey trust scale consisting of three short statements. We show that the dimension of this scale is distinct from trust in institutions and trust in known others. Our new scale is a valid and reliable measure of trust in strangers. The scale is valid in the sense that it correlates with trusting behaviour in the experiment. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the test-retest reliability of six weeks is high. The experimental measure of trust is, on the other hand, not significantly correlated with trust in institutions nor with trust in known others. We therefore conclude that the experimental measure of trust refers not to trust in a general sense, but specifically to trust in strangers.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Naef & Jürgen Schupp, 2009. "Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 167, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp167
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    Cited by:

    1. Berggren, Niclas & Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Hellström, Jörgen, 2014. "Social trust and central-bank independence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 425-439.
    2. Ernst Fehr, 2009. "On The Economics and Biology of Trust," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 235-266, 04-05.
    3. Johnson, Noel D. & Mislin, Alexandra A., 2011. "Trust games: A meta-analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 865-889.
    4. Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank & Kritikos, Alexander, 2012. "Trust, positive reciprocity, and negative reciprocity: Do these traits impact entrepreneurial dynamics?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 394-409.
    5. 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.
    6. Isabel Thielmann & Daniel W. Heck & Benjamin E. Hilbig, 2016. "Anonymity and incentives: An investigation of techniques to reduce socially desirable responding in the Trust Game," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 11(5), pages 527-536, September.
    7. Griessmair, Michele & Hussain, Dildar & Windsperger, Josef, 2014. "Trust and the tendency towards multi-unit franchising: A relational governance view," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(11), pages 2337-2345.
    8. Berggren, Niclas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2011. "Is the importance of religion in daily life related to social trust? Cross-country and cross-state comparisons," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 459-480.
    9. Charness, Gary & Rigotti, Luca & Rustichini, Aldo, 2016. "Social surplus determines cooperation rates in the one-shot Prisoner's Dilemma," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 113-124.
    10. Edo Rajh & Jelena Budak & Mateo Zokalj, 2016. "Personal Values of Internet Users: A Cluster Analytic Approach," Working Papers 1606, The Institute of Economics, Zagreb.
    11. Özcan, Burcu & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2011. "Social trust and human development," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 753-762.
    12. Ece Yagman & Malcolm Keswell, 2015. "Accents, Race and Discrimination: Evidence from a Trust Game," SALDRU Working Papers 158, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    13. Moritz Heß & Christian von Scheve & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2013. "Sind Politiker risikofreudiger als das Volk?: Eine empirische Studie zu Mitgliedern des Deutschen Bundestags," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 545, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    14. Schaeffer, Merlin & Koopmans, Ruud & Veit, Susanne & Wagner, Mareike & Wiedner, Jonas, 2011. "The Ethnic Diversity and Collective Action Survey (EDCAS): Technical report," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Migration, Integration, Transnationalization SP IV 2011-701, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    15. Michael Weinhardt & Jürgen Schupp, 2011. "Multi-Itemskalen im SOEP Jugendfragebogen," Data Documentation 60, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    16. Omar Sene, 2012. "Trust as a Proxy for the Ability to Produce Local Public Goods: Testing Different Measures," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00717141, HAL.
    17. Goedde-Menke, Michael & Lehmensiek-Starke, Moritz & Nolte, Sven, 2014. "An empirical test of competing hypotheses for the annuity puzzle," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 75-91.
    18. Saldarriaga-Isaza, Adrián & Villegas-Palacio, Clara & Arango, Santiago, 2015. "Phasing out mercury through collective action in artisanal gold mining: Evidence from a framed field experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 406-415.
    19. Bernard, Tanguy & Frölich, Markus & Landmann, Andreas & Unte, Pia Naima & Viceisza, Angelino & Wouterse, Fleur, 2015. "Building Trust in Rural Producer Organizations in Senegal: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 9207, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    20. Bergh, Andreas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2014. "Trust, welfare states and income equality: Sorting out the causality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 183-199.

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    Keywords

    Trust; experiment; survey; representativity; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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