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Car mechanics in the lab: investigating the behavior of real experts on experimental markets for credence goods

  • Adrian Beck
  • Rudolf Kerschbamer
  • Jianying Qiu
  • Matthias Sutter

Credence goods, such as car repairs or medical services, are characterized by severe informational asymmetries between sellers and consumers, leading to fraud in the form of provision of insufficient service (undertreatment), provision of unnecessary service (overtreatment) and charging too much for a given service (overcharging). Recent experimental research involving a standard (student) subject pool has examined the influence of informational and market conditions on the type and level of fraud. We investigate whether professional car mechanics – as real sellers of credence goods – react in the same way to changes in informational and institutional constraints. While we find qualitatively similar effects in the fraud dimensions of undertreatment and overcharging for both subject pools, car mechanics are significantly more prone to supplying unnecessary services in all conditions, which could be a result of decision heuristics they learned in their professional training.

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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2014/02.

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Date of creation: 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2014/02
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  1. Balafoutas, Loukas & Beck, Adrian & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sutter, Matthias, 2011. "What Drives Taxi Drivers? A Field Experiment on Fraud in a Market for Credence Goods," IZA Discussion Papers 5700, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives-Trust and Trustworthiness Among CEOs," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 743-771, 09.
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  5. Alevy, Jonathan E. & Haigh, Michael S. & List, John A., 2003. "Information Cascades: Evidence From A Field Experiment With Financial Market Professionals," Working Papers 28608, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
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  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. Henry S. Schneider, 2012. "Agency Problems and Reputation in Expert Services: Evidence from Auto Repair," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 406-433, 09.
  9. Jonathan Gruber & Maria Owings, 1996. "Physician Financial Incentives and Cesarean Section Delivery," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 99-123, Spring.
  10. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Seki, Erika, 2005. "Do Social Preferences Increase Productivity? Field Experimental Evidence from Fishermen in Toyama Bay," IZA Discussion Papers 1697, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
  12. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
  13. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-29, March-Apr.
  14. Asher Wolinsky, 1993. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 380-398, Autumn.
  15. Beck, Adrian & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Qiu, Jianying & Sutter, Matthias, 2013. "Shaping beliefs in experimental markets for expert services: Guilt aversion and the impact of promises and money-burning options," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 145-164.
  16. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With A Response To Camerer," NBER Working Papers 19666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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