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Experimental Evidence on the Divergence Between Measures of Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept--The Role of Value Uncertainty

  • Peter R. Mueser
  • Jay K. Dow

One of the most robust findings in experimental analysis in economics is that subjects often display a large discrepancy between the dollar value they are willing to accept in order to sell an item (WTA) and the dollar value they are willing to pay to purchase it (WTP). We suggest that often when individuals face purchase or sale decisions, the actual private value of an object is uncertain. This is significant because, in a large number of market environments, such uncertainty will cause individuals to display a disparity between WTA and WTP. Our review of the literature confirms that the WTA-WTP disparity does tend to grow where we might expect that estimating an object's value is more difficult. We then turn to our own experiments that attempt to measure such uncertainty more directly and examine how it relates to the WTA-WTP disparity. Our results confirm the hypothesis of a positive relationship.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Experimental with number 9803001.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 28 Mar 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:9803001
Note: 26 pages (title page, abstract page, 21 numbered pages, 3 tables), WordPerfect 6.1
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  1. Knetsch, Jack L, 1995. "Asymmetric Valuation of Gains and Losses and Preference Order Assumptions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(1), pages 134-41, January.
  2. Knez, Peter & Smith, Vernon L & Williams, Arlington W, 1985. "Individual Rationality, Market Rationality, and Value Estimation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 397-402, May.
  3. 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 1325-48, December.
  4. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:106:y:1991:i:4:p:1039-61 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-84, December.
  6. Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan, 1991. "The Winner's Curse and Public Information in Common Value Auctions: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 362-69, March.
  7. Steffen Huck & Georg Kirchsteiger & Jörg Oechssler, 2003. "Learning to Like What You Have - Explaining the Endowment Effect," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse5_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  8. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:2:p:479-505 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Hanemann, W Michael, 1991. "Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: How Much Can They Differ?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 635-47, June.
  10. Cummings, Ronald G & Harrison, Glenn W & Rutstrom, E Elisabet, 1995. "Homegrown Values and Hypothetical Surveys: Is the Dichotomous Choice Approach Incentive-Compatible?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 260-66, March.
  11. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:102:y:1987:i:3:p:679-90 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Shogren, Jason F. & Seung Y. Shin & Dermot J. Hayes & James B. Kliebenstein, 1994. "Resolving Differences in Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 255-70, March.
  13. Brookshire, David S & Coursey, Don L, 1987. "Measuring the Value of a Public Good: An Empirical Comparison of Elicitation Procedures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 554-66, September.
  14. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:110:y:1995:i:3:p:585-603 is not listed on IDEAS
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