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Guilt from Promise-Breaking and Trust in Markets for Expert Services: Theory and Experiment

  • Beck, Adrian

    ()

    (University of Innsbruck)

  • Kerschbamer, Rudolf

    ()

    (University of Innsbruck)

  • Qiu, Jianying

    ()

    (University of Innsbruck)

  • Sutter, Matthias

    ()

    (University of Cologne)

We examine the influence of guilt and trust on the performance of credence goods markets. An expert can make a promise to a consumer first, whereupon the consumer can express her trust by paying an interaction price before the expert’s provision and charging decisions. We argue that the expert’s promise induces a commitment that triggers guilt if the promise is broken, and guilt is exacerbated by higher interaction prices. An experiment qualitatively confirms our predictions: (1) most experts make the predicted promise; (2) proper promises induce consumer-friendly behavior; and (3) higher interaction prices increase the commitment value of proper promises.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4827.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4827
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  1. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "Promises and Partnership," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000001, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  4. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Ernst Fehr, 2008. "On the Economics and Biology of Trust," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 154, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. Dulleck, Uwe & Rudolf, Kerschbamer & Matthias, Sutter, 2009. "The Economics of Credence Goods: On the Role of Liability, Verifiability, Reputation and Competition," Working Papers in Economics 348, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  8. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
  9. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  10. Brandts, Jordi & Holt, Charles A, 1992. "An Experimental Test of Equilibrium Dominance in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1350-65, December.
  11. Huck, Steffen & Lünser, Gabriele K. & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2012. "Competition fosters trust," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 195-209.
  12. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, 04.
  13. Huck, Steffen & Lünser, Gabriele K. & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2010. "Consumer networks and firm reputation: A first experimental investigation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 242-244, August.
  14. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  15. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  16. Charness, Gary B & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2006. "Promises & Partnership," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0127h86v, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  17. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. Charness, Gary B & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2008. "Broken Promises: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6836m74q, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  20. Christoph Vanberg, 2008. "Why Do People Keep Their Promises? An Experimental Test of Two Explanations -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1467-1480, November.
  21. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
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