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Premium Auctions and Risk Preferences: An Experimental Study


  • Brunner, Christoph
  • Hu, Audrey
  • Oechssler, Jörg


In premium auctions, the highest losing bidder receives a reward from the seller. This paper studies the private value English premium auction (EPA) for different risk attitudes of bidders. We explicitly derive the symmetric equilibrium for bidders with CARA utilities and conduct an experimental study to test the theoretical predictions. In our experiment, subjects are sorted into risk-averse and risk loving groups. We find that revenues in the EPA are significantly higher when bidders are risk loving rather than risk averse. These results are partly consistent with theory and confirm the general view that bidders’ risk preferences constitute an important factor that affects bidding behavior and consequently also the seller’s expected revenue. However, individual subjects rarely follow the equilibrium strategy and as a result, revenue in our experiment is lower than in the symmetric equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunner, Christoph & Hu, Audrey & Oechssler, Jörg, 2013. "Premium Auctions and Risk Preferences: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 0544, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0544 Note: This paper is part of

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bernard Lebrun, 2015. "Revenue-superior variants of the second-price auction," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 59(2), pages 245-275, June.
    2. Ert, Eyal & Haruvy, Ernan, 2017. "Revisiting risk aversion: Can risk preferences change with experience?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 91-95.

    More about this item


    premium auction; risk preference; Holt-Laury method; experimental economics.;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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