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The Origin of the Winner's Curse: A Laboratory Study

  • Gary Charness
  • Dan Levin

The Winner's Curse (WC) is a robust and persistent deviation from theoretical predictions established in experimental economics and claimed to exist in field environments. Recent attempts to reconcile such deviation include "cursed equilibrium" and level-k reasoning. We design and implement a simplified version of the Acquiring-a-Company game that transformed the game to an individual-choice problem that still retains the adverse-selection problem. We further simplified the problem so that simple ordinal reasoning could replace both Bayesian updating and contingent thinking. Our results suggest that the WC reflects bounded rationality in that people have difficulties performing contingent reasoning on future events. (JEL D81, D82)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 207-36

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:207-36
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.1.1.207
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  1. Charness, Gary & Levin, Dan, 2003. "When Optimal Choices Feel Wrong: A Laboratory Study of Bayesian Updating, Complexity, and Affect," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7g63k28w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  2. Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan, 1991. "The Winner's Curse and Public Information in Common Value Auctions: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 362-69, March.
  3. Gneezy, Uri & Potters, Jan, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-45, May.
  4. Brit Grosskopf & Yoella Bereby-Meyer & Max Bazerman, 2007. "On the Robustness of the Winner’s Curse Phenomenon," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 63(4), pages 389-418, December.
  5. Rock, Kevin, 1986. "Why new issues are underpriced," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1-2), pages 187-212.
  6. Holt, Charles A & Sherman, Roger, 1994. "The Loser's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 642-52, June.
  7. JEFFREY J. LElTZlNGER & JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ, 1984. "Information Externalities In Oil And Gas Leasing," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 2(5), pages 44-57, 03.
  8. Dyer, Douglas & Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan, 1989. "A Comparison of Naive and Experienced Bidders in Common Value Offer Auctions: A Laboratory Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 108-15, March.
  9. Levin, Dan & Kagel, John H & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1996. "Revenue Effects and Information Processing in English Common Value Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 442-60, June.
  10. James Cox & Sam Dinkin & James Swarthout, 2001. "Endogenous Entry and Exit in Common Value Auctions," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 163-181, October.
  11. Reinhard Selten & Klaus Abbink & Ricarda Cox, 2005. "Learning Direction Theory and the Winner’s Curse," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-20, April.
  12. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  13. Ball, Sheryl B. & Bazerman, Max H. & Carroll, John S., 1991. "An evaluation of learning in the bilateral winner's curse," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-22, February.
  14. Erik Eyster & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "Cursed Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1623-1672, 09.
  15. Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan & Harstad, Ronald M, 1995. "Comparative Static Effects of Number of Bidders and Public Information on Behavior in Second-Price Common Value Auctions," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 293-319.
  16. Carroll, John S. & Bazerman, Max H. & Maury, Robin, 1988. "Negotiator cognitions: A descriptive approach to negotiators' understanding of their opponents," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 352-370, June.
  17. Roll, Richard, 1986. "The Hubris Hypothesis of Corporate Takeovers," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 197-216, April.
  18. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Convicting the Innocent: The Inferiority of Unanimous Jury Verdicts," Discussion Papers 1170, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  19. Levis, Mario, 1990. "The Winner's Curse Problem, Interest Costs and the Underpricing of Initial Public Offerings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(399), pages 76-89, March.
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