The Persistent Power of Promises
25 Pages Posted: 10 May 2018
Date Written: April 27, 2018
This paper investigates how the passage of time affects trust, trustworthiness, and cooperation. We use a hybrid lab and online experiment to provide the first evidence for the persistent power of communication. Even when 3 weeks pass between messages and actual choices, communication raises cooperation, trust, and trustworthiness by about 50 percent. Lags between the beginning of the interaction and the time to respond do not substantially alter the trustworthiness of the responder. Our results further suggest that the findings of the large experimental literature on trust that focuses on laboratory scenarios, in which senders are forced to choose their actions immediately after communicating with recipients, may translate to more ecologically valid settings in which individuals choose actions outside the lab and long after they initially made promises.
Keywords: Trust, Promises, Persistence, Trustworthiness, Delay, Experiment
JEL Classification: A13, C91, D03, C72, D64, K12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation