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When Rational Sellers Face Nonrational Buyers: Evidence from Herding on eBay

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  • Uri Simonsohn

    () (Rady School of Management, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093)

  • Dan Ariely

    () (The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

Abstract

People often observe others' decisions before deciding themselves. Using eBay data for DVD auctions we explore the consequences of neglecting nonsalient information when making such inferences. We show that bidders herd into auctions with more existing bids, even if these are a signal of no-longer-available lower starting prices rather than of higher quality. Bidders bidding a given dollar amount are less likely to win low starting price auctions, and pay more for them when they do win. Experienced bidders are less likely to bid on low starting price auctions. Remarkably, the seller side of the market is in equilibrium, because expected revenues are nearly identical for high and low starting prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Uri Simonsohn & Dan Ariely, 2008. "When Rational Sellers Face Nonrational Buyers: Evidence from Herding on eBay," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(9), pages 1624-1637, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:54:y:2008:i:9:p:1624-1637
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1080.0881
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Holst, Gesa Sophie & Hermann, Daniel & Musshoff, Oliver, 2015. "Anchoring effects in an experimental auction – Are farmers anchored?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 106-117.
    2. Liu, Kang Ernest & Shiu, Ji-Liang & Sun, Chia-Hung, 2013. "How different are consumers in Internet auction markets? Evidence from Japan and Taiwan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 1-12.
    3. Ravi Bapna & Chrysanthos Dellarocas & Sarah Rice, 2010. "Vertically Differentiated Simultaneous Vickrey Auctions: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(7), pages 1074-1092, July.
    4. repec:kap:sbusec:v:50:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11187-016-9825-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Philippe Jehiel & Laurent Lamy, 2015. "On absolute auctions and secret reserve prices," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 241-270, June.
    6. Tim Grebe & Radosveta Ivanova-Stenzel & Sabine Kröger, 2009. "Buy-it-Now Prices in eBay Auctions-The Field in the Lab," Cahiers de recherche 0950, CIRPEE.
    7. Juanjuan Zhang & Peng Liu, 2012. "Rational Herding in Microloan Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(5), pages 892-912, May.
    8. Ulrike Malmendier & Young Han Lee, 2011. "The Bidder's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 749-787, April.
    9. Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2011. "Like What You Like or Like What Others Like? Conformity and Peer Effects on Facebook," Working Paper Series 886, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    10. Mohammadi, Ali & Shafi, Kourosh, 2015. "The contribution patterns of equity-crowdfunding investors: Gender, Risk aversion and Observational learning," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 419, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    11. Shiu, Ji-Liang & Sun, Chia-Hung D., 2014. "Modeling and estimating returns to seller reputation with unobserved heterogeneity in online auctions," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 59-67.
    12. Wedad Elmaghraby & Anandasivam Gopal & Ali Pilehvar, 2012. "Reference Prices and Bidder Heterogeneity in Secondary Market Online B2B Auctions," Working Papers 12-06, NET Institute, revised Sep 2012.
    13. Pownall, Rachel A.J. & Wolk, Leonard, 2013. "Bidding behavior and experience in internet auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 14-27.
    14. Xu, Xun & Zeng, Shuo & He, Yuanjie, 2017. "The influence of e-services on customer online purchasing behavior toward remanufactured products," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 113-125.
    15. Philippe Jehiel & Laurent Lamy, 2011. "Absolute auctions and secret reserve prices: Why are they used?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000316, David K. Levine.
    16. Liran Einav & Theresa Kuchler & Jonathan Levin & Neel Sundaresan, 2015. "Assessing Sale Strategies in Online Markets Using Matched Listings," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 215-247, May.
    17. Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2016. "Nonstandard bidder behavior in real-world auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 198-212.
    18. Holst, Gese Sophie & Hermann, Daniel & Mußhoff, Oliver, 2014. "Anchoring Effects in an Experimental Auction," 54th Annual Conference, Goettingen, Germany, September 17-19, 2014 187386, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    19. Uri Simonsohn, 2010. "eBay's Crowded Evenings: Competition Neglect in Market Entry Decisions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(7), pages 1060-1073, July.

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