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Cursed Equilibrium


  • Eyster, Erik
  • Rabin, Matt


There is evidence that people do not fully take into account how other people’s actions are contingent on these others’ information. This paper defines and applies a new equilibrium concept in games with private information, "cursed equilibrium", which assumes that each player correctly predicts the distribution of other players’ actions, but underestimates the degree to which these actions are correlated with these other players’ information. We apply the concept to common-values auctions, where cursed equilibrium captures the widely observed phenomenon of the winner’s curse. We also show how cursed equilibrium predicts other empirically observed phenomena, such as trade in adverse- selection settings where conventional analysis predicts no trade, and "naïve" voting in elections and juries where rational-choice models predict that voters fully take into account the informational content in being pivotal.
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Suggested Citation

  • Eyster, Erik & Rabin, Matt, 2002. "Cursed Equilibrium," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6xf4782t, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt6xf4782t

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacobsen, Ben & Potters, Jan & Schram, Arthur & van Winden, Frans & Wit, Jorgen, 2000. "(In)accuracy of a European political stock market: The influence of common value structures," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 205-230, February.
    2. Ball, Sheryl B. & Bazerman, Max H. & Carroll, John S., 1991. "An evaluation of learning in the bilateral winner's curse," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-22, February.
    3. Robert Forsythe & R. Mark Isaac & Thomas R. Palfrey, 1989. "Theories and Tests of "Blind Bidding" in Sealed-Bid Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 214-238, Summer.
    4. 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.
    5. Eddie Dekel & Michele Piccione, 2000. "Sequential Voting Procedures in Symmetric Binary Elections," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 34-55, February.
    6. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
    7. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-286, July.
    8. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
    9. Potters, J.J.M. & Wit, J., 1996. "Bets and Bids : Favorite-Longshot Bias and Winner's Curse," Discussion Paper 1996-04, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    10. Eddie Dekel & Michele Piccione, 1997. "On the Equivalence of Simultaneous and Sequential Binary Elections," Discussion Papers 1206, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    11. Christopher Avery & John H. Kagel, 1997. "Second-Price Auctions with Asymmetric Payoffs: An Experimental Investigation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 573-603, September.
    12. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    13. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:23-35_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. 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.
    15. Levin, Dan & Kagel, John H & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1996. "Revenue Effects and Information Processing in English Common Value Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 442-460, June.
    16. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-86, July.
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    More about this item


    cursed equilibrium; game theory; adverse selection settings; decision making; voting theory; Social and Behavioral Sciences;

    JEL classification:

    • B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other


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