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Investing Even in Uneven Contests: Effects of Asymmetry on Investment in Experimental All-Pay Contests

  • Einav Hart
  • Judith Avrahami
  • Yaakov Kareev
  • Peter M. Todd
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    Many competitions require investment of nonrefundable resources, e.g., political campaigns, financial markets, sports or courting rituals. One contestant wins the prize for the invested amount, while all others forfeit their investments without receiving compensation. Frequently, contests are asymmetric, due to differing resources or prize valuations. This could lead weaker contestants to avoid investing, and stronger ones to lower their investment. Two experiments explored the effects of asymmetry between the contestants – arising from their endowments or prizes – on investments. Subjects played both symmetric and asymmetric contests, enabling direct within-subject comparisons. We observed an effect of asymmetry only when it concerned endowments: Subjects invested less when their endowments were asymmetric, whereas (a-)symmetry in the prizes did not influence investments. The changes between consecutive investments can be explained by reactions to the previous outcome (win or loss) in terms of regret over the previous investment being too much or too little.

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    File URL: http://ratio.huji.ac.il/sites/default/files/publications/dp660.pdf
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    Paper provided by The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in its series Discussion Paper Series with number dp660.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp660
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    1. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Varies, C.G., 1990. "The All-Pay Auction With Complete Information," Papers 9051, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
    2. Douglas Davis & Robert Reilly, 1998. "Do too many cooks always spoil the stew? An experimental analysis of rent-seeking and the role of a strategic buyer," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 89-115, April.
    3. Lugovskyy, Volodymyr & Puzzello, Daniela & Tucker, Steven, 2010. "An experimental investigation of overdissipation in the all pay auction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 974-997, November.
    4. Sheremeta, Roman M., 2010. "Experimental comparison of multi-stage and one-stage contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 731-747, March.
    5. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2012. "A Survey of Experimental Research on Contests, All-Pay Auctions and Tournaments," Working Papers 12-22, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    6. Vickers, John, 1995. "Concepts of Competition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 1-23, January.
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    8. Judith Avrahami & Werner Güth & Ralph Hertwig & Yaakov Kareev & Hironori Otsubo, 2010. "Learning (Not) To Yield: An Experimental Study of Evolving Ultimatum Game Behavior," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-092, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
    9. Baye, Michael R & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G, 1993. "Rigging the Lobbying Process: An Application of the All-Pay Auction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 289-94, March.
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    11. O'Keeffe, Mary & Viscusi, W Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1984. "Economic Contests: Comparative Reward Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 27-56, January.
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    14. Gneezy, Uri & Smorodinsky, Rann, 2006. "All-pay auctions--an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 255-275, October.
    15. Kyle A. Young, 2003. "Evolution of fighting behavior under asymmetric competition: an experimental test with juvenile salmonids," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 14(1), pages 127-134, January.
    16. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
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