Smiling is a Costly Signal of Cooperation Opportunities: Experimental Evidence from a Trust Game
We test the hypothesis that "genuine" or "convincing" smiling is a costly signal that has evolved to induce cooperation in situations requiring mutual trust. Potential trustees in a trust game made video clips for viewing by potential trusters before the latter decided whether to send them money. Ratings of the genuineness of smiles vary across clips; it is difficult to make convincing smiles to order. We argue that smiling convincingly is costly, because smiles from trustees playing for higher stakes are rated as significantly more convincing, so that rewards appear to induce effort. We show that it induces cooperation: smiles rated as more convincing strongly predict judgments about the trustworthiness of trustees, and willingness to send them money. Finally, we show that it is a honest signal: those smiling convincingly return more money on average to senders. Convincing smiles are to some extent a signal of the intrinsic character of trustees: less honest individuals find smiling convincingly more difficult. They are also informative about the greater amounts that trustees playing for higher stakes have available to share: it is harder to smile convincingly if you have less to offer.
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- Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2009.
"The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1534-1559, October.
- Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2005. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-075/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 28 Mar 2006.
- Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2005. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Discussion Papers 06-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Mar 2006.
- Hwang, Sung-Ha & Bowles, Samuel, 2012. "Is altruism bad for cooperation?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 330-341.
- Sung Ha Hwang & Samuel Bowles, 2008. "Is altruism bad for cooperation?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2008-13, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
- Sung-Ha Hwang & Samuel Bowles, 2011. "Is Altruism Bad for Cooperation?," Working Papers 1114, Research Institute for Market Economy, Sogang University.
- Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "A Psychological Perspective on Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 162-168, May.
- Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771.
- Scharlemann, Jorn P. W. & Eckel, Catherine C. & Kacelnik, Alex & Wilson, Rick K., 2001. "The value of a smile: Game theory with a human face," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 617-640, October. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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