The Persistent Power of Promises

27 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2019

See all articles by Florian Ederer

Florian Ederer

Yale School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Frédéric Schneider

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 30, 2019


Using a large-scale hybrid laboratory and online trust experiment with pre-play communication this paper investigates how the passage of time affects trust, trustworthiness, and cooperation. We provide evidence for the persistent power of communication. Even when three weeks pass between messages and actual choices and even when these choices are made outside of the lab, communication (predominantly through the use of promises) raises cooperation, trust, and trustworthiness by about 50 percent. Delays between the beginning of the interaction and the time to reciprocate neither substantially alter trust or trustworthiness nor affect how subjects choose to communicate.

Keywords: Trust, Promises, Persistence, Trustworthiness, Delay

JEL Classification: C91, C72, D83

Suggested Citation

Ederer, Florian and Schneider, Frédéric, The Persistent Power of Promises (May 30, 2019). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2129R (2019). Available at SSRN: or

Florian Ederer (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
United States


Yale University - Cowles Foundation ( email )

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Frédéric Schneider

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

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