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Preference Elicitation under Oath

Eliciting sincere preferences for non-market goods remains a challenge due to hypothetical bias - the so-called gap between hypothetical monetary values and real economic commitments. The gap arises because people either overstate hypothetical values or understate real commitments or a combination of both. Herein we examine whether the traditional real-world institution of the solenn oath can improve preference elicitation. Applying the social psychology theory on the oath as a truth-telling-commitment device, we ask our bidders to swear on their honour to give honest answers prior to participating in an incentive-compatible second-price auction. Results from our induced valuation testbed treatments suggest the oath-only auctions outperform all other auctions (real, hypothetical, and real-with-oath). In our homegrown valuation treatments eliciting preferences for dolphin protection, the oath-only design induced people to treat as binding both their budget constraint (i.e., lower values on the high end of the value distribution) and participation constraint (i.e., positive values rather than zero bids used to opt out of auction). Our oath-only results are robust to extra training on the auction and to consequential wording about the reason for the oath.

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File URL: ftp://mse.univ-paris1.fr/pub/mse/CES2009/09043.pdf
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Paper provided by Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne in its series Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne with number 09043.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:09043
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  1. Nicolas Jacquemet & Stephane Luchini & Robert-Vincent Joule & Jason Shogren, 2008. "Earned Wealth, Engaged Bidders? Evidence from a second price auction," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00277283, HAL.
  2. Karen Blumenschein & GlennC. Blomquist & Magnus Johannesson & Nancy Horn & Patricia Freeman, 2008. "Eliciting Willingness to Pay Without Bias: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(525), pages 114-137, 01.
  3. Aadland, David & Caplan, Arthur J., 2006. "Cheap talk reconsidered: New evidence from CVM," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 562-578, August.
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  5. Cummings, Ronald G, et al, 1997. "Are Hypothetical Referenda Incentive Compatible?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 609-21, June.
  6. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "Promises and Partnership," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000001, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Mariah D. Ehmke & Jayson L. Lusk & John A. List, 2008. "Is Hypothetical Bias a Universal Phenomenon? A Multinational Investigation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(3), pages 489-500.
  8. Laura O. Taylor & Ronald G. Cummings, 1999. "Unbiased Value Estimates for Environmental Goods: A Cheap Talk Design for the Contingent Valuation Method," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 649-665, June.
  9. Nicolas Jacquemet & Alexander James & Stephane Luchini & Jason Shogren, 2010. "Referenda under Oath," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00490448, HAL.
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  12. Jacquemet, Nicolas & Joule, Robert-Vincent & Luchini, Stéphane & Shogren, Jason F., 2011. "Do People Always Pay Less Than They Say? Testbed Laboratory Experiments With IV and HG Values," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/9717, Paris Dauphine University.
  13. Friedel Bolle & Matthew Braham, . "A Difficulty with Oaths: On Trust, Trustworthiness, and Signalling," German Working Papers in Law and Economics 2003-1-1055, Berkeley Electronic Press.
  14. Mark Morrison & Thomas Brown, 2009. "Testing the Effectiveness of Certainty Scales, Cheap Talk, and Dissonance-Minimization in Reducing Hypothetical Bias in Contingent Valuation Studies," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 44(3), pages 307-326, November.
  15. John List & Craig Gallet, 2001. "What Experimental Protocol Influence Disparities Between Actual and Hypothetical Stated Values?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 20(3), pages 241-254, November.
  16. List, John A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1998. "Calibration of the difference between actual and hypothetical valuations in a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 193-205, October.
  17. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Discussion Papers 07-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  18. James Murphy & P. Allen & Thomas Stevens & Darryl Weatherhead, 2005. "A Meta-analysis of Hypothetical Bias in Stated Preference Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 30(3), pages 313-325, 03.
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  21. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2003. "Promises & Partnership," Research Papers in Economics 2003:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
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  29. Shogren, Jason F. & Margolis, Michael & Koo, Cannon & List, John A., 2001. "A random nth-price auction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 409-421, December.
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  34. Nicolas Jacquemet & Robert-Vincent Joule & Stephane Luchini & Jason Shogren, 2011. "Do people always pay less than they say? Testbed laboratory experiments with IV and HG values," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00526134, HAL.
  35. Todd Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason Shogren & John List & Melonie Sullivan, 2004. "Laboratory Testbeds and Non-Market Valuation: The Case of Bidding Behavior in a Second-Price Auction with an Outside Option," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 29(3), pages 285-294, November.
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