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The value of victory: social origins of the winner's curse in common value auctions

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Listed:
  • Wouter van den Bos
  • Jian Li
  • Tatiana Lau
  • Eric Maskin
  • Jonathan D. Cohen
  • P. Read Montague
  • Samuel M. McClure

Abstract

Auctions, normally considered as devices facilitating trade, also provide a way to probe mechanisms governing one's valuation of some good or action. One of the most intriguing phenomena in auction behavior is the winner's curse --- the strong tendency of participants to bid more than rational agent theory prescribes, often at a significant loss. The prevailing explanation suggests that humans have limited cognitive abilities that make estimating the correct bid difficult, if not impossible. Using a series of auction structures, we found that bidding approaches rational agent predictions when participants compete against a computer. However, the winner's curse appears when participants compete against other humans, even when cognitive demands for the correct bidding strategy are removed. These results suggest the humans assign significant future value to victories over human but not over computer opponents even though such victories may incur immediate losses, and that this valuation anomaly is the origin of apparently irrational behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Wouter van den Bos & Jian Li & Tatiana Lau & Eric Maskin & Jonathan D. Cohen & P. Read Montague & Samuel M. McClure, 2008. "The value of victory: social origins of the winner's curse in common value auctions," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3(7), pages 483-492, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:3:y:2008:i:7:p:483-492
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Armantier, Olivier, 2004. "Does observation influence learning?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 221-239, February.
    4. Max H. Bazerman & William F. Samuelson, 1983. "I Won the Auction But Don't Want the Prize," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 27(4), pages 618-634, December.
    5. Kagel, John H, et al, 1989. "First-Price Common Value Auctions: Bidder Behavior and the "Winner's Curse."," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(2), pages 241-258, April.
    6. Garvin, Susan & Kagel, John H., 1994. "Learning in common value auctions: Some initial observations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 351-372, December.
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    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 108-115, March.
    9. Drew Fudenberg, 2006. "Advancing Beyond Advances in Behavioral Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 694-711, September.
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    11. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
    12. Lind, Barry & Plott, Charles R, 1991. "The Winner's Curse: Experiments with Buyers and with Sellers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 335-346, March.
    13. John H. Kagel & Jean-Francois Richard, 2001. "Super-Experienced Bidders In First-Price Common-Value Auctions: Rules Of Thumb, Nash Equilibrium Bidding, And The Winner'S Curse," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 408-419, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bartling, Björn & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "An externality-robust auction: Theory and experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 186-204.
    2. repec:eee:jouret:v:91:y:2015:i:3:p:468-485 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Malhotra, Deepak, 2010. "The desire to win: The effects of competitive arousal on motivation and behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 139-146, March.
    4. Nichols, Bridget Satinover, 2012. "The development, validation, and implications of a measure of consumer competitive arousal (CCAr)," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 192-205.
    5. Duersch, Peter & Müller, Julia, 2015. "Taking punishment into your own hands: An experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-11.
    6. repec:eee:joinma:v:35:y:2016:i:c:p:56-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Anuja Hariharan & Marc Thomas Philipp Adam & Timm Teubner & Christof Weinhardt, 2016. "Think, feel, bid: the impact of environmental conditions on the role of bidders’ cognitive and affective processes in auction bidding," Electronic Markets, Springer;IIM University of St. Gallen, vol. 26(4), pages 339-355, November.

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    Keywords

    auctions; winner's curse; bounded rationality.;

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