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Mistakes, Closure and Endowment Effect in Laboratory Experiments


  • Anmol Ratan


In this paper, we relax the hard closure property of experiments that have been used to study endowment effect in laboratory. We study differences in benchmark environments (hard closure) and an environment that allows participants to reverse the decisions taken in the laboratory (soft closure). We find that “endowment effect” is not observed in the soft closure treatment. The procedures in our experiment allow us to circumvent the critique of altered expectations. Our results call for a careful interpretation of experiments that suggest “endowment effect” in laboratory conditions. Other implications pertain to external validity of experiments with hard closure.

Suggested Citation

  • Anmol Ratan, 2012. "Mistakes, Closure and Endowment Effect in Laboratory Experiments," Monash Economics Working Papers 22-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2012-22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92.
    2. Dirk Engelmann & Guillaume Hollard, 2010. "Reconsidering the Effect of Market Experience on the “Endowment Effect”," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 2005-2019, November.
    3. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    4. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
    5. Steffen Andersen & Seda Ertac & Uri Gneezy & Moshe Hoffman & John A. List, 2011. "Stakes Matter in Ultimatum Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3427-3439, December.
    6. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71.
    7. John A. List, 2004. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 615-625, March.
    8. repec:feb:framed:0088 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Lange, Andreas & Ratan, Anmol, 2010. "Multi-dimensional reference-dependent preferences in sealed-bid auctions - How (most) laboratory experiments differ from the field," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 634-645, March.
    10. Ori Heffetz & John A. List, 2011. "Is the Endowment Effect a Reference Effect?," NBER Working Papers 16715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "Viewpoint: On the generalizability of lab behaviour to the field," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 347-370, May.
    12. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
    13. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson & Andreas Fuster, 2011. "Expectations as Endowments: Evidence on Reference-Dependent Preferences from Exchange and Valuation Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1879-1907.
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    More about this item


    prospect-theory; endowment effect; reference-dependence; loss aversion; lab experiments; field experiments; external validity;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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