Trust, Information Acquisition and Financial Decisions: A Field Experiment
In this paper we analyze the relationship between financial decisions, information acquisition, and trust. In particular, our hypothesis is that financial transactions depend, among other variables, on the level of trust, reciprocity and association among individuals. Also, individuals’ willingness to acquire and process information relevant to perform financial transactions is related not only to their cognitive abilities, but also to the level of trust they have in the financial institutions. We conducted a field experiment using the trust game, with two important variations, with the partners of an of credit and savings cooperative located in a rural area of México. Our results indicate that those individuals who frequently visit their friends show greater willingness to trust other individuals. In contrast, those individuals who visit their families more regularly show less willingness to reciprocate, while active members of the cooperative show greater reciprocity. Regarding the acquisition of information, we find that just over 2/3 of the participants buy the maximum of pieces of information. However, none of the pieces of information acquired appears to affect the transfers among participants. Possibly for our experimental subjects trust plays an overextended role in financial decision making that makes information acquisition less relevant than it is for other types of individuals making the same sort of decisions.
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