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Coleman's Hypothesis on trusting behaviour and a remark on meta-studies

Friedel Bolle and Jessica Kaehler

Journal of Economic Methodology, 2006, vol. 13, issue 4, 469-483

Abstract: Coleman (1990) describes 'calculative trust'. He states that, in order to trust, the value of trust has to be larger than the value of mistrust. So if subjects have (not personally but on average) rational expectations about the trustworthiness of their transaction partners, we should expect the frequency of trust to increase with the average net profitability of trust. In a meta-study of trust experiments, Coleman's Hypothesis could not be confirmed while, in our own experiment with a wider parameter range, it is supported. We explain this finding by the parameter choices of experimenters. They choose pay-off parameters resulting in situations where decisions are 'difficult', i.e. to make the alternatives 'trusting' and 'non-trusting' seem equally profitable. Thus, such experiments are concentrated on a specific subspace of parameters and are inadequate for certain meta-studies.

Keywords: trust; reciprocity; experimental economics; meta-studies; representative design; experimenter bias (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2006
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DOI: 10.1080/13501780601049061

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