Political Identity and Trust

49 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2015

See all articles by Pablo Hernandez-Lagos

Pablo Hernandez-Lagos

New York University, Abu Dhabi

Dylan Minor

Anderson School of Management (UCLA)

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.

Suggested Citation

Hernandez-Lagos, Pablo and Minor, Dylan, Political Identity and Trust (July 1, 2015). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 16-012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2635616

Pablo Hernandez-Lagos

New York University, Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 903
NYC, NY 10276-0903
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pablohernandez-lagos.com

Dylan Minor (Contact Author)

Anderson School of Management (UCLA) ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

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