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Identity Changes and the Efficiency of Reputation Systems

Listed author(s):
  • Wibral, Matthias

    ()

    (Maastricht University)

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    Reputation systems aim to induce honest behavior in online trade by providing information about past conduct of users. Online reputation, however, is not directly connected to a person, but only to the virtual identity of that person. Users can therefore shed a negative reputation by creating a new account. We study the effects of such identity changes on the efficiency of reputation systems. We compare two markets in which we exogenously vary whether sellers can erase their rating profile and start over as new sellers. Buyer trust and seller trustworthiness decrease significantly when sellers can erase their ratings. With identity changes, trust is particularly low towards new sellers since buyers cannot discriminate between truly new sellers and opportunistic sellers who changed their identity. Nevertheless, we observe positive returns on buyer investment under the reputation system with identity changes, and our evidence suggests that trustworthiness is higher than in the complete absence of a reputation system.

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    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp8216.pdf
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    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8216.

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    Length: 28 pages
    Date of creation: May 2014
    Publication status: published in: Experimental Economics, 2015, 18(3), 408-431
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8216
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    1. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
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    7. David Masclet & Thierry Pénard, 2012. "Do reputation feedback systems really improve trust among anonymous traders? An experimental study," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(35), pages 4553-4573, December.
    8. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    9. Iris Bohnet & Heike Harmgart & Steffen Huck & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2005. "Learning Trust," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 322-329, 04/05.
    10. Steffen Keck & Natalia Karelaia, 2012. "Does competition foster trust? The role of tournament incentives," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(1), pages 204-228, March.
    11. Klein, Tobias J. & Lambertz, Christian & Spagnolo, Giancarlo & Stahl, Konrad O., 2007. "The Actual Structure of eBay’s Feedback Mechanism and Early Evidence on the Effects of Recent Changes," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 220, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    12. Brit Grosskopf & Rajiv Sarin, 2010. "Is Reputation Good or Bad? An Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2187-2204, December.
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