Political Identity and Trust
49 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 1, 2015
We explore how political identity affects trust. Using an incentivized experimental survey conducted on a representative sample of the U.S. population, we vary information about partners’ partisan identity to elicit trust behavior, beliefs about trustworthiness, and actual reciprocation. By eliciting beliefs, we are able to assess whether differences in trust rates are due to stereotyping or a "taste for discrimination." By measuring actual trustworthiness, we are able to determine whether beliefs are statistically correct. We find that trust is pervasive and depends on the partisan identity of the trustee. Differential trust rates are explained by incorrect stereotypes about the other’s lack of trustworthiness rather than by a "taste for discrimination." Given the importance of beliefs, we run additional treatments in which we disclose previous reciprocation rates before participants decide whether to trust. We find that beliefs are slightly more optimistic compared with the previous treatments, suggesting that incorrect stereotypes are hard to change.
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