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Trust and the Reference Points for Trustworthiness in Gulf and Western Countries

  • Herrmann, Benedikt
  • Zeckhauser, Richard Jay
  • Bohnet, Iris

Why is private investment so low in Gulf compared to Western countries? We investigate cross-regional differences in trust and reference points for trustworthiness as possible factors. Experiments controlling for cross-regional differences in institutions and beliefs about trustworthiness reveal that Gulf citizens pay much more than Westerners to avoid trusting, and hardly respond when returns to trusting change. These differences can be explained by subjects’ gain/loss utility relative to their region’s reference point for trustworthiness. The relation-based production of trust in the Gulf induces higher levels of trustworthiness, albeit within groups, than the rule-based interactions prevalent in the West.

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Paper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4417252.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:4417252
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  1. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2003. "Trust, Risk and Betrayal," Working Paper Series rwp03-041, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
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  6. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "Reference-Dependent Risk Attitudes," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001267, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  8. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S285-300, October.
  9. Xavier Sala-i-Martín & Elsa V. Artadi, 2003. "Economic growth and investment in the Arab world," Economics Working Papers 683, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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