Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination

46 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2009

See all articles by Michael Naef

Michael Naef

University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics; University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Jürgen Schupp

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität; The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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Abstract

Trust is a concept that has attracted - significant attention in economic theory and research within the last two decades: it has been applied in a number of contexts and has been investigated both as an explanatory and as a dependent variable. In this paper, we explore the questions of what exactly is measured by the diverse survey-derived scales and experiments claiming to measure trust, and how these different measures are related. Using nationally representative data, we test a commonly used experimental measure of trust for robustness to a number of interferences, finding it to be mostly unsusceptible to stake size, the extent of strategy space, the use of the strategy method, and the characteristics of the experimenters. Inspired by criticism of the widespread trust question used in many surveys, we created a new, improved survey trust scale consisting of three short statements. We show that the dimension of this scale is distinct from trust in institutions and trust in known others. Our new scale is a valid and reliable measure of trust in strangers. The scale is valid in the sense that it correlates with trusting behaviour in the experiment. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the test-retest reliability of six weeks is high. The experimental measure of trust is, on the other hand, not significantly correlated with trust in institutions nor with trust in known others. We therefore conclude that the experimental measure of trust refers not to trust in a general sense, but specifically to trust in strangers.

Keywords: trust, experiment, survey, representativity, SOEP

JEL Classification: C83, C91, D63, Z13

Suggested Citation

Naef, Michael and Schupp, Juergen, Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4087. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1369833

Michael Naef (Contact Author)

University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics ( email )

Royal Holloway College
Egham
Surrey, Surrey TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Juergen Schupp

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, D-10117
Germany
+49 30 8 978 9238 (Phone)
+49 30 8 978 9109 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.diw.de/deutsch/das_institut/mitarbeiter/innen/26652.html?uid=jschupp

Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität ( email )

Garystr. 55
I
Berlin, D-14195
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/soziologie/mitarbeiter/b_hochschullehrer/schupp.html

The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/index_html?lang=de&mainframe=http%3A//www.iza.org/de/webcontent/personnel/fellows

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