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The market: Catalyst for rationality and filter of irrationality

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  • John List
  • Daniel Millimet

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 perhaps the central issue facing behavioral economics today: to what extent does market experience mitigate various forms of individual irrationality? We find considerable evidence that the market is a catalyst for rationality. The study then focuses on aggregate market outcomes by examining empirically whether individual rationality is a prerequisite for market efficiency. Using field data gathered from more than 380 subjects of age 6-18 in multi-lateral bargaining markets at a shopping mall, we find that the market is a filter of irrationality—even when markets are populated solely by irrational buyers, aggregate market outcomes quickly converge to neoclassical predictions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Framed Field Experiments with number 00179.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00179

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Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Richard Blundell & Mónica Costa Dias, 2008. "Alternative Approaches to Evaluation in Empirical Microeconomics," CEF.UP Working Papers 0805, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
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  5. John A. List, 2004. "Testing Neoclassical Competitive Theory in Multilateral Decentralized Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1131-1156, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Costa-Gomes, Miguel A. & Huck, Steffen & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2010. "Beliefs and Actions in the Trust Game: Creating Instrumental Variables to Estimate the Causal Effect," IZA Discussion Papers 4709, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Proeger, Till & Meub, Lukas, 2014. "Overconfidence as a social bias: Experimental evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 203-207.
  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. John A. List, 2011. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies? The Case of Exogenous Market Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 313-17, May.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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