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Promises and Image Concerns

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  • Schütte, Miriam
  • Thoma, Carmen

Abstract

According to several psychological and economic studies, non-binding communication can be an effective tool to increase trust and enhance cooperation. This paper focuses on reasons why people stick to a given promise and analyzes to what extent image concerns of being perceived as a promise breaker play a role. In a controlled laboratory experiment, we vary the ex post observability of the promising party's action in order to test for social image concerns. We observe that slightly more promises are kept if the action is revealed than if it is not, yet the difference is not significant. However, a variation in the selection of pre-defined messages across treatments delivers another interesting finding. While most of the promises are kept, statements of intent tend to be broken.

Suggested Citation

  • Schütte, Miriam & Thoma, Carmen, 2014. "Promises and Image Concerns," Discussion Papers in Economics 20861, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:20861
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    File URL: https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/20861/1/Schuette_Thoma_promises_140518.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Cadsby, C. Bram & Du, Ninghua & Song, Fei & Yao, Lan, 2015. "Promise keeping, relational closeness, and identifiability: An experimental investigation in China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 120-133.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Promises; communication; social image concerns; guilt; shame; behavioral economics; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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