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Less Rationality, More Efficiency: a Laboratory Experiment on "Lemons" Markets

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  • Kirstein, Annette
  • Kirstein, Roland

Abstract

In this paper we experimentally test a theory of boundedly rational behavior in a "lemons market." We analyzed two different market designs, for which perfect rationality implies complete and partial market collapse, respectively. Our empirical observations deviate substantially from these predictions of rational choice theory: Even after 20 repetitions, the actual outcome is closer to efficiency than expected. Our bounded rationality approach to explaining these observations starts with the insight that perfect rationality would require the players to perform an infinite number of iterative reasoning steps. Boundedly rational players, however, carry out only a limited number of such iterations. We have determined the iteration type of the players independently from their market behavior. A significant correlation exists between the iteration types and the observed price offers.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirstein, Annette & Kirstein, Roland, 2004. "Less Rationality, More Efficiency: a Laboratory Experiment on "Lemons" Markets," CSLE Discussion Paper Series 2004-02 [rev.], Saarland University, CSLE - Center for the Study of Law and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:csledp:200402r
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & José G. Montalvo & Rosemarie Nagel & Albert Satorra, 2002. "One, Two, (Three), Infinity, ...: Newspaper and Lab Beauty-Contest Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1687-1701, December.
    2. McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1992. "An Experimental Study of the Centipede Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 803-836, July.
    3. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-1326, December.
    4. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2001. "Ten Little Treasures of Game Theory and Ten Intuitive Contradictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1402-1422, December.
    5. T. Randolph Beard & Richard O. Beil, 1994. "Do People Rely on the Self-Interested Maximization of Others? An Experimental Test," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(2), pages 252-262, February.
    6. Schotter Andrew & Weigelt Keith & Wilson Charles, 1994. "A Laboratory Investigation of Multiperson Rationality and Presentation Effects," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 445-468, May.
    7. Colin F. Camerer, 1997. "Progress in Behavioral Game Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 167-188, Fall.
    8. Rosenthal, Robert W., 1981. "Games of perfect information, predatory pricing and the chain-store paradox," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 92-100, August.
    9. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roland Kirstein & Annette Kirstein, "undated". "Europäischer Verbraucherschutz – Ausdruck grenzenloser Regulierungswut oder sinnvoller Schutz für Käufer? Erkenntnisse aus einem Laborexperiment," German Working Papers in Law and Economics 2006-1-1160, Berkeley Electronic Press.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    guessing games; beauty contests; market failure; adverse selection; lemon problem; regulatory failure; paternalistic regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology

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