NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Jeffrey Butler

Contact and additional information for this authorAll publicationsWorking Papers only

Working Papers

November 2012Trust and Cheating
with Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso: w18509
When we take a cab we may feel cheated if the driver takes an unnecessarily long route despite the lack of a contract or promise to take the shortest possible path. Is our decision to take the cab affected by our belief that we may end up feeling cheated? Is the behavior of the driver affected by his beliefs about what we consider cheating? We address these questions in the context of a trust game by asking participants directly about their notions of cheating. We find that: i) both parties to a trust exchange have implicit notions of what constitutes cheating even in a context without promises or messages; ii) these notions are not unique – the vast majority of senders would feel cheated by a negative return on their trust/investment, whereas a sizable minority defines cheating according ...
October 2012Trust, Values and False Consensus
with Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso: w18460
Trust beliefs are heterogeneous across individuals and, at the same time, persistent across generations. We investigate one mechanism yielding these dual patterns: false consensus. In the context of a trust game experiment, we show that individuals extrapolate from their own type when forming trust beliefs about the same pool of potential partners - i.e., more (less) trustworthy individuals form more optimistic (pessimistic) trust beliefs - and that this tendency continues to color trust beliefs after several rounds of game-play. Moreover, we show that one’s own type/trustworthiness can be traced back to the values parents transmit to their children during their upbringing. In a second closely-related experiment, we show the economic impact of mis-calibrated trust beliefs stemming from fal...
September 2009The Right Amount of Trust
with Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso: w15344
A vast literature has investigated the relationship between trust and aggregate economic performance. We investigate the relationship between individual trust and individual economic performance. We find that individual income is hump-shaped in a measure of intensity of trust beliefs available in the European Social Survey. We show that heterogeneity of trust beliefs in the population, coupled with the tendency of individuals to extrapolate beliefs about others from their own level of trustworthiness, could generate the non-monotonic relationship between trust and income. Highly trustworthy individuals think others are like them and tend to form beliefs that are too optimistic, causing them to assume too much social risk, to be cheated more often and ultimately perform less well than those...

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