Heuristic Thinking and Limited Attention in the Car Market
AbstractCan heuristic information processing affect important product markets? We explore whether the tendency to focus on the left-most digit of a number affects how used car buyers incorporate odometer values in their purchase decisions. Analyzing over 22 million wholesale used-car transactions, we find substantial evidence of this left-digit bias; there are large and discontinuous drops in sale prices at 10,000-mile thresholds in odometer mileage, along with smaller drops at 1,000-mile thresholds. We obtain estimates for the inattention parameter in a simple model of this left-digit bias. We also investigate whether this heuristic behavior is primarily attributable to the final used-car customers or the used-car salesmen who buy cars in the wholesale market. The evidence is most consistent with partial inattention by final customers. We discuss the significance of these results for the literature on inattention and point to other market settings where this type of heuristic thinking may be important. Our results suggest that information-processing heuristics may be important even in market settings with large stakes and where information is easy to observe.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 105.
Date of creation: 2011
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Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
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Other versions of this item:
- Nicola Lacetera & Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2012. "Heuristic Thinking and Limited Attention in the Car Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2206-36, August.
- Nicola Lacetera & Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2011. "Heuristic Thinking and Limited Attention in the Car Market," NBER Working Papers 17030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment
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Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2011.
"Limited and Varying Consumer Attention: Evidence from Shocks to the Salience of Bank Overdraft Fees,"
NBER Working Papers
17028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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- Florian Englmaier & Andreas Roider & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "The Role of Salience in Performance Schemes: Evidence from a Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 3771, CESifo Group Munich.
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- Asmus Leth Olsen, 2013. "Leftmost-digit-bias in an enumerated public sector? An experiment on citizens' judgment of performance information," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(3), pages 365-371, May.
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