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When curiosity kills the profits: An experimental examination

  • Jamison, Julian
  • Karlan, Dean S.

Economic theory predicts that in a first-price auction with equal and observable valuations, bidders earn zero profits. Theory also predicts that if valuations are not common knowledge, then since it is weakly dominated to bid your valuation, bidders will bid less and earn positive profits. Hence, rational players in an auction game should prefer less public information. We are perhaps more used to seeing these results in the equivalent Bertrand setting. In our experimental auction, we find that individuals without information on each other's valuations earn more profits than those with common knowledge. However, given a choice between the two sets of rules, approximately half the individuals preferred to have the public information. We discuss possible explanations, including showing that there is a correlation between ambiguity aversion and a preference for having more information in the auction.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 66 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 830-840

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:66:y:2009:i:2:p:830-840
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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  1. 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.
  2. Yan Chen & Peter Katuscak & Emre Ozdenoren, 2005. "Sealed Bid Auctions with Ambiguity: An Experimental Study," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp269, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  3. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  4. Kagel, John H & Harstad, Ronald M & Levin, Dan, 1987. "Information Impact and Allocation Rules in Auctions with Affiliated Private Values: A Laboratory Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1275-1304, November.
  5. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  6. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  7. Lisa Cameron, 1995. "Raising the Stakes in the Ultimatum Game: Experimental Evidence From Indonesia," Working Papers 724, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  9. Blank, Rebecca M, 1991. "The Effects of Double-Blind versus Single-Blind Reviewing: Experimental Evidence from The American Economic Review," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1041-67, December.
  10. Ketcham, Jon & Smith, Vernon L & Williams, Arlington W, 1984. "A Comparison of Posted-Offer and Double-Auction Pricing Institutions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 595-614, October.
  11. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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