Nonverbal Content and Trust: An Experiment on Digital Communication

62 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2020 Last revised: 7 Apr 2021

See all articles by Zakaria Babutsidze

Zakaria Babutsidze

SKEMA Business School

Nobuyuki Hanaki

Osaka University - Institute of Social and Economic Research

Adam Zylbersztejn

University of Lyon 2 - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE)

Date Written: April 7, 2021

Abstract

We experimentally study the effect of the mode of digital communication on the emergence of swift 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 interaction partners.

Keywords: Digital communication, Trust, Hidden action, Nonverbal content, Principal-agent relationship, Promises

JEL Classification: C72, D83

Suggested Citation

Babutsidze, Zakaria and Hanaki, Nobuyuki and Zylbersztejn, Adam, Nonverbal Content and Trust: An Experiment on Digital Communication (April 7, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3540258 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3540258

Zakaria Babutsidze (Contact Author)

SKEMA Business School ( email )

Lille
France

Nobuyuki Hanaki

Osaka University - Institute of Social and Economic Research ( email )

6-1, Mihogaoka
Suita, Osaka 567-0047
Japan

Adam Zylbersztejn

University of Lyon 2 - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE) ( email )

93, chemin des Mouilles
Ecully, 69130
France

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