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Measuring Trust: A Reinvestigation

Billur Aksoy (), Haley Harwell (), Ada Kovaliukaite () and Catherine Eckel ()
Additional contact information
Haley Harwell: University of Richmond, Jepson School of Leadership Studies
Ada Kovaliukaite: Texas A&M University, Department of Economics

No 20170119-001, Working Papers from 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.

Keywords: Investment game; replication; lab experiment; trust; trustworthiness; inequality aversion (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D64 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-soc and nep-upt
Date: 2017-01-19
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http://respec.tamu.edu/aksoymeasuringtrust.pdf First version, 2017 (application/pdf)

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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:txm:wpaper:20170119-001

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