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Reasoning and Institutions: Do Markets Facilitate Logical Reasoning in the Wason Selection Task?

  • David V. Budescu
  • Boris Maciejovsky

A vast literature shows that individuals frequently fail to identify the normative solutions in logical reasoning tasks. Much attention has been devoted to the study of these deviations at the individual level; less eVort was exerted to investigate whether institutional settings might facilitate and improve reasoning. In this paper we address this question by embedding theWason selection task in a competitive market: each of the four cards of the task was traded over multiple periods in anonymous continuous double auctions, and with real financial incentives. The results of two experiments involving 28 markets, with eight subjects each, indicate that errors in logical reasoning persist, and are present in a wide variety of trading variables, such as prices, volume and liquidity. The market’s behavior reflects the normatively correct outcome only when a substantial number of traders know the correct solution.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group in its series Papers on Strategic Interaction with number 2003-04.

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Length: 34 pages
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Handle: RePEc:esi:discus:2003-04
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  1. Tilman Slembeck & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2002. "Do Institutions Promote Rationality? An Experimental Study of the Three-Door Anomaly," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-21, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  2. Hirshleifer, David & Luo, Guo Ying, 2000. "On the Survival of Overconfident Traders in a Competitive Securities Market," MPRA Paper 15347, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. De Long, J Bradford, et al, 1991. "The Survival of Noise Traders in Financial Markets," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(1), pages 1-19, January.
  4. Knez, Peter & Smith, Vernon L & Williams, Arlington W, 1985. "Individual Rationality, Market Rationality, and Value Estimation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 397-402, May.
  5. Russell, Thomas & Thaler, Richard, 1985. "The Relevance of Quasi Rationality in Competitive Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1071-82, December.
  6. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  7. Jamal, Karim & Sunder, Shyam, 1996. "Bayesian equilibrium in double auctions populated by biased heuristic traders," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 273-291, November.
  8. Friedman, Daniel, 1998. "Monty Hall's Three Doors: Construction and Deconstruction of a Choice Anomaly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 933-46, September.
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