Babutsidze, Zakaria Hanaki, Nobuyuki Zylbersztejn, Adam
Year of Publication:
ISER Discussion Paper No. 1128
We experimentally study the effect of the mode of digital communication on the emergence of trust in a principal-agent relationship. We consider three modes of communication that differ in the capacity to transmit nonverbal content: plain text, audio, and video. Communication is pre-play, one-way, and unrestricted, but its verbal content is homogenized across treatments. Overall, both audio and video messages have a positive (and similar) effect on trust as compared to plain text; however, the magnitude of these effects depends on the verbal content of agent's message (promise to act trustworthily vs. no such promise). In all conditions, we observe a positive effect of the agent's promise on the principal's trust. We also report that trust in female principals is sensitive to the availability of nonverbal cues about their partners.
Digital communication Trust Hidden action Nonverbal content Principal-agentrelationship Promises