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Measuring Trust: A Reinvestigation

Author

Listed:
  • Billur Aksoy

    () (Texas A&M University, Department of Economics)

  • Haley Harwell

    () (University of Richmond, Jepson School of Leadership Studies)

  • Ada Kovaliukaite

    () (Texas A&M University, Department of Economics)

  • Catherine Eckel

    () (Texas A&M University, Department of Economics)

Abstract

We reinvestigate the question first posed by Glaeser, Laibson, Scheinkman and Soutter (2000, GLSS hereafter): What is the best measure of trust for predicting trusting behavior? This important study, cited over 2,100 times, established that the behavior in the investment game, an incentivized measure of trust, is not correlated with the responses to the most widely used survey questions about trust, employed in the General Social Survey (GSS) and the World Values Survey (WVS). We use the GLSS protocol with one major change: we employ the original Berg et al. (1995) investment game instead of the modified version used in GLSS. The standard game endows both players, while the latter endows only the first mover, potentially changing the incentives that influence subjects’ behavior. In particular, the utility from trusting behavior for inequality averse individuals may be higher, if the second movers are not endowed. Thus, such players may appear to be more trusting even though they are simply inequality averse. This causes a distortion in the laboratory measure of trust and reduces its correlation with the survey measure of trust. In support of this concern, GLSS demonstrates that the survey measure of trust is not correlated with trusting behavior in their investment game, where the second mover is not endowed. After endowing the second mover, we find the opposite. Our finding suggests that trust is a single construct, whether measured by the survey questions or by an incentivized game. This can be masked if the incentivized measure of trust is confounded with other motives.

Suggested Citation

  • Billur Aksoy & Haley Harwell & Ada Kovaliukaite & Catherine Eckel, 2017. "Measuring Trust: A Reinvestigation," Working Papers 20170119-001, Texas A&M University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:txm:wpaper:20170119-001
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    File URL: http://respec.tamu.edu/aksoymeasuringtrust.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lazzarini, S. G. & Madalozzo, R. C & Artes, R. & Siqueira, J. O., 2004. "Measuring trust: An experiment in Brazil," Insper Working Papers wpe_42, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
    2. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Mahmud, Minhaj & Martinsson, Peter, 2013. "Trust, trust games and stated trust: Evidence from rural Bangladesh," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 286-298.
    3. Ciriolo, Emanuele, 2007. "Inequity aversion and trustees' reciprocity in the trust game," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1007-1024, December.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & J�rgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, "undated". "A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining trust and trustworthiness by integrating behavioral experiments into representative surveys," IEW - Working Papers 141, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. Johnson, Noel D. & Mislin, Alexandra A., 2011. "Trust games: A meta-analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 865-889.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Emanuele Ciriolo, 2007. "Inequity aversion and trustees' reciprocity in the trust game," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/176651, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. Xiao, Erte & Bicchieri, Cristina, 2010. "When equality trumps reciprocity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 456-470, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Investment game; replication; lab experiment; trust; trustworthiness; inequality aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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