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The Market: Catalyst for Rationality and Filter of Irrationality

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  • List John A.

    ()
    (University of Chicago and NBER)

  • Millimet Daniel L

    ()
    (Southern Methodist University)

Abstract

Assumptions of individual rationality and preference stability provide the foundation for a convenient and tractable modeling approach. While both of these assumptions have come under scrutiny in distinct literatures, the two lines of research remain disjointed. This study begins by explicitly linking the two literatures while providing insights into whether market experience mitigates one specific form of individual rationality—consistent preferences. Using field experimental data gathered from more than 800 experimental subjects, we find evidence that the market is a catalyst for this type of rationality. The study then focuses on aggregate market outcomes by examining empirically whether individual rationality of this sort is a prerequisite for market efficiency. Using a complementary field experiment, we gathered data from more than 380 subjects of age 6-18 in multi-lateral bargaining markets at a shopping mall. We find that our chosen market institution is a filter of irrationality: even when markets are populated solely by irrational buyers, aggregate market outcomes converge to the intersection of the supply and demand functions.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 8 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (November)
Pages: 1-55

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:8:y:2008:i:1:n:47

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Cited by:
  1. Miguel A. Costa-Gomes & Steffen Huck & Georg Weizsäcker, 2010. "Beliefs and Actions in the Trust Game: Creating Instrumental Variables to Estimate the Causal Effect," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 969, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Jonathan E. Alevy & Craig E. Landry & John A. List, 2011. "Field Experiments on Anchoring of Economic Valuations," Working Papers 2011-02, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
  3. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till & Bizer, Kilian, 2013. "Anchoring: A valid explanation for biased forecasts when rational predictions are easily accessible and well incentivized?," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 166, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  4. Maria Porter, 2014. "For Love or Reward? Characterising Preferences for Giving to Parents in an Experimental Setting," Economics Series Working Papers 709, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. V. Smith & Eric Moore, 2010. "Behavioral Economics and Benefit Cost Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 46(2), pages 217-234, June.
  6. John A. List, 2011. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies? The Case of Exogenous Market Experience," NBER Working Papers 16908, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till, 2014. "Are groups 'less behavioral'? The case of anchoring," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 188, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  8. Ketcham, Jonathan D. & Lucarelli, Claudio & Miravete, Eugenio J & Roebuck, M Christopher, 2011. "Sinking, Swimming, or Learning to Swim in Medicare Part D," CEPR Discussion Papers 8585, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Proeger, Till & Meub, Lukas, 2014. "Overconfidence as a social bias: Experimental evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 203-207.
  10. List, John & Millimet, Daniel, . "Bounding the Impact of Market Experience on Rationality: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Imperfect Compliance," Departmental Working Papers 0505, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.

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