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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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    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. 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.
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