The Persistent Power of Promises

26 Pages Posted: 7 May 2018

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: April 30, 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 trust or trustworthiness. Our results further suggest that the findings of the large experimental literature on trust that focuses on laboratory scenarios in which subjects are forced to choose their actions immediately after communicating, 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

Ederer, Florian and Schneider, Frédéric, The Persistent Power of Promises (April 30, 2018). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2129, 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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