Are people who appear to have high socio-economic status (ie, highly educated/holding prestigious jobs) perceived as being more trustworthy than others? Yes, says IAST research fellow Marijn Keijzer, a mathematical sociologist, who devised, along with his co-author Rense Corten, an experiment to test a hypothesis posited in 1990 by renowned sociologist James Coleman. Coleman argued that people with higher socio-economic status are seen as inherently more trustworthy. Keijzer and Corten’s recently published experimental paper confirms Coleman’s theory.
Their experiment, which mimicks online peer-to-peer market platforms – such as leboncoin and airbnb – where sellers and buyers interact directly without going via intermediaries, shows that sellers with higher socio-economic status could, in fact, get away with charging higher prices for the same good than others. Though other factors are at play – positive reviews are more influential overall – a seller’s perceived socio-economic status does have a positive effect on the price of the good being sold.
Among the many real-world implications of this work is the troubling thought that socio-economic inequalities can be amplified, in our already unequal world, by online marketplaces.
Paper titled: Socioeconomic status, reputation, and interpersonal trust in peer-to-peer markets: Evidence from an online experiment. (with Rense Corten) Published at Rationality and Society, 2022. doi : 10.1177/10434631221131771
To read more about Keijzer’s paper, see his twitter here : https://twitter.com/mrnkzr
Illustration: Element5 Digital sur Unsplash