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Naturally occurring markets and exogenous laboratory experiments: A case study of the winner's curse

  • Glenn Harrison
  • John List

There has been a dramatic increase in the use of experimental methods in the past two decades. An oft-cited reason for this rise in popularity is that experimental methods provide the necessary control to estimate treatment effects in isolation of other confounding factors. We examine the relevance of experimental findings from laboratory settings that abstract from the field context of the task that theory purports to explain. Using common value auction theory as our guide, we identify naturally occurring settings in which one can test the theory. In our treatments the subjects are not picked at random, as in lab experiments with student subjects, but are deliberately identified by their trading roles in the natural field setting. We find that experienced agents bidding in familiar roles do not fall prey to the winner's curse. Yet, when experienced agents are observed bidding in an unfamiliar role, we find that they frequently fall prey to the winner's curse. We conclude that the theory predicts field behavior well when one is able to identify naturally occurring field counterparts to the key theoretical conditions.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Framed Field Experiments with number 00266.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00266
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Bohm, Peter & Lind, Hans, 1993. "Preference reversal, real-world lotteries, and lottery-interested subjects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 327-348, December.
  3. Hendricks, Kenneth & Porter, Robert H, 1988. "An Empirical Study of an Auction with Asymmetric Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 865-83, December.
  4. Hans Lind & Peter Bohm, 1993. "Preference reversal, real-world lotteries, and lottery-interested subjects," Framed Field Experiments 00131, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Plott, Charles R. & Sunder, Shyam., . "Efficiency of Experimental Security Markets with Insider Information: An Application of Rational Expectations Models," Working Papers 331, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. Harrison, Glenn W, 1990. "Risk Attitudes in First-Price Auction Experiments: A Bayesian Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(3), pages 541-46, August.
  7. Douglas Dyer & John H. Kagel, 1996. "Bidding in Common Value Auctions: How the Commercial Construction Industry Corrects for the Winner's Curse," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(10), pages 1463-1475, October.
  8. Engelbrecht-Wiggans, Richard & Milgrom, Paul R. & Weber, Robert J., 1983. "Competitive bidding and proprietary information," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 161-169, April.
  9. Laskowski, Michael C. & Slonim, Robert L., 1999. "An Asymptotic Solution for Sealed Bid Common-Value Auctions with Bidders Having Asymmetric Information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 238-255, August.
  10. Friedman, Daniel & Harrison, Glenn W & Salmon, Jon W, 1984. "The Informational Efficiency of Experimental Asset Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 349-408, June.
  11. Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan, 1991. "The Winner's Curse and Public Information in Common Value Auctions: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 362-69, March.
  12. 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 108-15, March.
  13. 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 442-60, June.
  14. John List, 2001. "Do explicit warnings eliminate the hypothetical bias in elicitation procedures? Evidence from field auctions for sportscards," Framed Field Experiments 00163, The Field Experiments Website.
  15. David Lucking-Reiley & John A. List, 2000. "Demand Reduction in Multiunit Auctions: Evidence from a Sportscard Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 961-972, September.
  16. John H. Kagel & Dan Levin, 1999. "Common Value Auctions with Insider Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(5), pages 1219-1238, September.
  17. Paul Milgrom & Robert J. Weber, 1981. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Discussion Papers 447R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  18. Paul Slovic & Sarah Lichtenstein, 1973. "Response-induced reversals of preference in gambling: An extended replication in las vegas," Framed Field Experiments 00169, The Field Experiments Website.
  19. Robert B. Wilson, 1967. "Competitive Bidding with Asymmetric Information," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(11), pages 816-820, July.
  20. Kagel, John H & Harstad, Ronald M & Levin, Dan, 1987. "Information Impact and Allocation Rules in Auctions with Affiliated Private Values: A Laboratory Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1275-1304, November.
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