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A man of his word? An experiment on gender differences in promise keeping

Janina Kleinknecht

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2019, vol. 168, issue C, 251-268

Abstract: Promises and expectations play an important role in strategic environments, since cooperation often requires individuals to rely on informal commitments. Indeed, numerous experiments have already shown that promises are more than cheap talk. The motives for promise keeping can be rooted in social preferences, which have been demonstrated to differ for men and women. This paper systematically investigates gender differences in promise keeping based on the experimental design of Vanberg (2008). In particular, I analyze gender differences in the motives for promise keeping and the understanding of promises. Moreover, I compare the behavior of men and women in mixed and single gender interactions. I find no gender differences in the likelihood of giving promises, but promises raise expectations of women more than those of men. Women keep promises more often than men, although both, men and women, anticipate that a promise raises expectations on the part of its receiver. Moreover, the experiment reveals that there are no gender differences in the underlying motives for promise keeping. For men and women both, their own promise as well as the expectations of the receiver, matter.

Keywords: Promises; Beliefs; Gender economics; Social values (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 D8 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.10.008

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:168:y:2019:i:c:p:251-268