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The Endowment Effect

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  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson
  • Andreas Fuster

Abstract

The endowment effect is among the best known findings in behavioral economics, and has been used as evidence for theories of reference-dependent preferences and loss aversion. However, a recent literature has questioned the robustness of the effect in the laboratory, as well as its relevance in the field. In this review, we provide a summary of the evidence, and describe recent theoretical developments that can potentially reconcile the different findings, with a focus on expectation-based reference points. We also survey recent work from psychology that provides either alternatives to or refinements of the usual loss aversion explanation. We argue that loss aversion is still the leading paradigm for understanding the endowment effect, but that given the rich psychology behind the effect, a version of the theory that encompasses multiple reference points may be required.

Suggested Citation

  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson & Andreas Fuster, 2013. "The Endowment Effect," NBER Working Papers 19384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19384 Note: EEE LE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Vincent P. Crawford & Juanjuan Meng, 2011. "New York City Cab Drivers' Labor Supply Revisited: Reference-Dependent Preferences with Rational-Expectations Targets for Hours and Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1912-1932, August.
    3. Roland Fryer & Steven Levitt & John List & Sally Sadoff, 2012. "Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00591, The Field Experiments Website.
    4. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
    5. Botond Kőszegi & Paul Heidhues, 2008. "Competition and Price Variation When Consumers Are Loss Averse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1245-1268, September.
    6. 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.
    7. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71.
    8. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2012. "Salience in Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 47-52, May.
    9. John A. List, 2004. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 615-625, March.
    10. Knetsch, Jack L. & Wong, Wei-Kang, 2009. "The endowment effect and the reference state: Evidence and manipulations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 407-413, August.
    11. Strahilevitz, Michal A & Loewenstein, George, 1998. " The Effect of Ownership History on the Valuation of Objects," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 276-289, December.
    12. Andrea Isoni & Graham Loomes & Robert Sugden, 2011. "The Willingness to Pay—Willingness to Accept Gap, the "Endowment Effect," Subject Misconceptions, and Experimental Procedures for Eliciting Valuations: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 991-1011, April.
    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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lunn,Pete & Lunn, Mary, 2014. "What Can I Get For It? The Relationship Between the Choice Equivalent, Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay," Papers WP479, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    2. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2016. "Field Experiments in Markets," NBER Working Papers 22113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:eee:eecrev:v:94:y:2017:i:c:p:240-262 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Committee, Nobel Prize, 2017. "Richard H. Thaler: Integrating Economics with Psychology," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2017-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
    5. Drouvelis, Michalis & Sonnemans, Joep, 2017. "The endowment effect in games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 240-262.
    6. Fehr, Dietmar & Hakimov, Rustamdjan & Kübler, Dorothea, 2015. "The willingness to pay–willingness to accept gap: A failed replication of Plott and Zeiler," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 120-128.
    7. Lunn, Pete & Lunn, Mary, 2014. "A Computational Theory of Willingness to Exchange," Papers WP477, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    8. William J. Matthews & Ana I. Gheorghiu & Mitchell J. Callan, 2016. "Why do we overestimate others' willingness to pay?," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 11(1), pages 21-39, January.
    9. Lunn, Pete & Somerville, Jason J., 2015. "Surplus Identification with Non-Linear Returns," Papers WP522, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    10. von Wangenheim, Jonas, 2017. "English versus Vickrey Auctions with Loss Averse Bidders," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 48, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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