October 2014

IZA DP No. 8534: The Effect of Communication Channels on Promise-Making and Promise-Keeping

revised version published in: Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Oct. 2017, 12(3): 595-611 [ DOI: 10.1007/s11403-016-0177-9 ]

This paper investigates the effect of different communication channels on promise-making and promise-keeping in a helping situation. Four treatments differ with respect to the communication channel employed to solicit unincentivized cooperation, i.e., face-to-face, phone call and two different sorts of computer-mediated communication. The less anonymous (face-to-face, phone) the interpersonal interaction is due to the different communication channels, the higher the propensity of an agent to make a promise. Treatment effects, however, vanish if we then look at the actual promise-keeping rates across treatments as more anonymous channels (computer-mediated) do not perform relatively worse than more direct channels.