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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sengupta, Arjun & Vanberg, Christoph, 2023. "Promise keeping and reliance damage," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
    2. 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.
    3. Kleinknecht, Janina, 2019. "A man of his word? An experiment on gender differences in promise keeping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 251-268.
    4. Sengupta, Arjun & Vanberg, Christoph, 2020. "Promises and Opportunity Cost," Working Papers 0692, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Promises; communication; social image concerns; guilt; shame; behavioral economics; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    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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