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Nonverbal content and trust: An experiment on digital communication

Zakaria Babutsidze, Nobuyuki Hanaki () and Adam Zylbersztejn

Economic Inquiry, 2021, vol. 59, issue 4, 1517-1532

Abstract: We experimentally study the effect of the mode of digital communication on the emergence of trust in a principal‐agent relationship. We consider three modes of communication that differ in the capacity to transmit nonverbal content: plain text, audio, and video. Communication is pre‐play, one‐way, and unrestricted, but its verbal content is homogenized across treatments. Overall, both audio and video messages have a positive (and similar) effect on trust as compared to plain text; however, the magnitude of these effects depends on the verbal content of agent's message (promise to act trustworthily vs. no such promise). In all conditions, we observe a positive effect of the agent's promise on the principal's trust. We also report that trust in female principals is sensitive to the availability of nonverbal cues about their partners.

Date: 2021
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https://doi.org/10.1111/ecin.12998

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Working Paper: Nonverbal content and trust: An experiment on digital communication (2021)
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