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

  • 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)

Registered author(s):

    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.

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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 1624-1637

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:54:y:2008:i:9:p:1624-1637
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