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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. Lusk,Jayson L. & Shogren,Jason F., 2007. "Experimental Auctions," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521855167.
    2. Abeler, Johannes & Falk, Armin & Götte, Lorenz & Huffman, David B., 2009. "Reference Points and Effort Provision," IZA Discussion Papers 3939, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
    4. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 2001. "Prospect Theory and Asset Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 1-53.
    5. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz G�tte, 2005. "Do Workers Work More if Wages are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 125, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    6. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    7. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, 2001. "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1233-1260.
    8. 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.
    9. Vincent P Crawford & Juanjuan Meng, 2008. "New York City Cabdrivers’ Labor Supply Revisited: Reference-Dependent Preferences with Rational-Expectations Targets for Hours and Income," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002281, David K. Levine.
    10. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller & Philipp Weinschenk, 2010. "Binary Payment Schemes: Moral Hazard and Loss Aversion," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_38, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:4:p:1879-1907 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92.
    15. 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.
    16. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    17. Colin Camerer & Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein & Richard Thaler, 1997. "Labor Supply of New York City Cabdrivers: One Day at a Time," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 407-441.
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