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Do Auction Bids Betray Expectations-Based Reference Dependent Preferences? A Test, Experimental Evidence, And Estimates Of Loss Aversion

  • A. BANERJI

    (Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, India)

  • NEHA GUPTA

    (Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, India)

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    In this paper, we provide a novel experimental auction design that exploits an exogenous variation in the probability of winning to test for the presence of expectations-based reference dependent preferences. We prove that (i) in this design, (which is a one parameter modification of a Becker-de Groote-Marschak (BDM) auction), a lower probability of winning will cause a loss averse agent to bid lower, for a large range of intrinsic values for the object. Data from an experiment demonstrate the existence of this effect. The effect would be absent if preferences were 'standard', or if the status quo was the reference point. Thus we contribute to the nascent literature that empirically documents the importance of expectations as a source of reference points. (ii) We further prove that the experimental design enables unique identification of participants' value distribution and loss averse than men. Finally, as a contribution to experimental methodology, we prove that the BDM mechanism will underestimate loss averse participants' values, we quantify the underestimation, and we suggest methods to bound this bias.

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    File URL: http://www.cdedse.org/pdf/work206.pdf
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    Paper provided by Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics in its series Working papers with number 206.

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    Length: 42 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cde:cdewps:206
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    1. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    2. Lange, Andreas & Ratan, Anmol, 2010. "Multi-dimensional reference-dependent preferences in sealed-bid auctions - How (most) laboratory experiments differ from the field," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 634-645, March.
    3. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000341, UCLA Department of Economics.
    4. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, 2001. "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 8143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Stefano DellaVigna, 2007. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," NBER Working Papers 13420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Crawford, Vincent P. & Meng, Juanjuan, 2008. "New York City Cabdrivers' Labor Supply Revisited: Reference-Dependence Preferences with Rational-Expectations Targets for Hours and Income," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt94w5n6j9, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    7. Johannes Abeler & Armin Falk & Lorenz Goette & David Huffman, 2011. "Reference Points and Effort Provision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 470-92, April.
    8. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2007. "Do Workers Work More if Wages Are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 298-317, March.
    9. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 2001. "Prospect Theory And Asset Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 1-53, February.
    10. Herweg, Fabian & Müller, Daniel & Weinschenk, Philipp, 2010. "Binary payment schemes: Moral hazard and loss aversion," Munich Reprints in Economics 19450, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. Emmanuel Guerre & Isabelle Perrigne & Quang Vuong, 2009. "Nonparametric Identification of Risk Aversion in First-Price Auctions Under Exclusion Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1193-1227, 07.
    12. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
    13. Lusk,Jayson L. & Shogren,Jason F., 2007. "Experimental Auctions," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671248.
    14. Camerer, Colin & Babcock, Linda & Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard, 1996. "Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A time," Working Papers 960, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    15. Vincent P. Crawford & Juanjuan Meng, 2011. "New York City Cab Drivers' Labor Supply Revisited: Reference-Dependent Preferences with Rational-Expectations Targets for Hours and Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1912-32, August.
    16. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson & Andreas Fuster, 2011. "Expectations as Endowments: Evidence on Reference-Dependent Preferences from Exchange and Valuation Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1879-1907.
    17. Cox, James C & Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1988. " Theory and Individual Behavior of First-Price Auctions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 61-99, March.
    18. Botond Kőszegi & Paul Heidhues, 2008. "Competition and Price Variation When Consumers Are Loss Averse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1245-68, September.
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