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Beliefs and Actions in the Trust Game: Creating Instrumental Variables to Estimate the Causal Effect

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Listed:
  • Costa-Gomes, Miguel A.

    () (University of Aberdeen)

  • Huck, Steffen

    () (University College London)

  • Weizsäcker, Georg

    () (DIW Berlin)

Abstract

In many economic contexts, an elusive variable of interest is the agent's expectation about relevant events, e.g. about other agents' behavior. Recent experimental studies as well as surveys have asked participants to state their beliefs explicitly, but little is known about the causal relation between beliefs and other behavioral variables. This paper discusses the possibility of creating exogenous instrumental variables for belief statements, by shifting the probabilities of the relevant events. We conduct trust game experiments where the amount sent back by the second player (trustee) is exogenously varied by a random process, in a way that informs only the first player (trustor) about the realized variation. The procedure allows detecting causal links from beliefs to actions under plausible assumptions. The IV estimates indicate a significant causal effect, comparable to the connection between beliefs and actions that is suggested by OLS analyses.

Suggested Citation

  • Costa-Gomes, Miguel A. & Huck, Steffen & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2010. "Beliefs and Actions in the Trust Game: Creating Instrumental Variables to Estimate the Causal Effect," IZA Discussion Papers 4709, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4709
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tobias Regner & Gerhard Riener, 2011. "Motivational Cherry Picking," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-029, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    2. Adriani, Fabrizio & Sonderegger, Silvia, 2015. "Trust, trustworthiness and the consensus effect: An evolutionary approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 102-116.
    3. Barron, Kai & Gravert, Christina, 2018. "Confidence and Career Choices: An Experiment," Working Papers in Economics 715, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. Khalmetski, Kiryl, 2016. "Testing guilt aversion with an exogenous shift in beliefs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 110-119.
    5. Dargnies, Marie-Pierre & Hakimov, Rustamdjan & Kübler, Dorothea, 2016. "Self-confidence and unraveling in matching markets," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2016-210, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    6. Steffen Huck & Tobias Schmidt & Georg Weizsäcker, 2014. "The Standard Portfolio Choice Problem in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 650, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Bracht, Jürgen & Regner, Tobias, 2013. "Moral emotions and partnership," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 313-326.
    8. 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.
    9. Michael Naef & Alessandro Sontuoso, 2014. "Consensus vs. Conformity in Mixed-Motive Games," PPE Working Papers 0002, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    10. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Koch, Alexander K. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2014. "Preferences and beliefs in a sequential social dilemma: a within-subjects analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 122-135.
    11. Harrison, Glenn W. & Martínez-Correa, Jimmy & Swarthout, J. Todd & Ulm, Eric R., 2017. "Scoring rules for subjective probability distributions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 430-448.
    12. Fischer, Mira & Sliwka, Dirk, 2018. "Confidence in Knowledge or Confidence in the Ability to Learn: An Experiment on the Causal Effects of Beliefs on Motivation," IZA Discussion Papers 11327, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    15. 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.
    16. Sonsino, Doron & Shifrin, Max & Lahav, Eyal, 2016. "Disentangling trust from risk-taking: Triadic approach," MPRA Paper 80095, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Francesco Farina & Gianluca Grimalda, 2011. "A cross-country experimental comparison of preferences for redistribution," Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena 0211, Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena.
    18. Barron, Kai & Gravert, Christina, 2018. "Beliefs and actions: How a shift in confidence affects choices," MPRA Paper 84743, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    20. Barron, Kai, 2016. "Belief updating: Does the 'good-news, bad-news' asymmetry extend to purely financial domains?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2016-309, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social capital; trust game; instrumental variables; belief elicitation;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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