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Discrete Rule Learning and the Bidding of the Sexes


  • Shachat, Jason
  • Wei, Lijia


We present a hidden Markov model of discrete strategic heterogeneity and learning in first price independent private values auctions. The model includes three latent bidding rules: constant absolute mark-up, constant percentage mark-up, and strategic best response. Rule switching probabilities depend upon a bidder's past auction outcomes. We apply this model to a new experiment that varies the number of bidders, the auction frame between forward and reverse, and includes the collection of saliva samples - used to measure subjects' sex hormone levels. We find the proportion of bidders following constant absolute mark-up increases with experience, particularly when the number of bidders is large. The primary driver here is subjects' increased propensity to switch strategies when they experience a loss (win) reinforcement when following a strategic (heuristic) rule. This affect is stronger for women and leads them spend more time following boundedly rational rules. We also find women in the Luteal and Menstrual phases of their menstrual cycle bid less aggressively, in terms of surplus demanded, when following the best response rule. This combined with spending more time following simple rules of thumbs explains gender differences in earnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Shachat, Jason & Wei, Lijia, 2013. "Discrete Rule Learning and the Bidding of the Sexes," MPRA Paper 47953, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47953

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Gill & Victoria Prowse, 2014. "Gender differences and dynamics in competition: The role of luck," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 5, pages 351-376, July.
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    More about this item


    private value auction; discrete heterogeneity; learning; gender difference; hidden Markov model; laboratory experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C15 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Statistical Simulation Methods: General
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions


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