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Opportunity cost, inattention and the bidder's curse

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  • Freeman, David
  • Kimbrough, Erik O.
  • Reiss, J. Philipp

Abstract

Recent research suggests that auction winners sometimes fall prey to a "bidder's curse", paying more for an item at auction than they would have paid at a posted price. One explanation for this phenomenon is that bidders are inattentive to posted prices. We develop a model in which bidders' inattention, and subsequent overbidding, is driven by a rational response to the opportunity cost of acquiring information about the posted price. We test our model in a laboratory experiment in which subjects bid in an auction while facing an opportunity cost of looking up the posted price. We vary the opportunity cost, and we show that information acquisition decreases and consequently overbidding increases with opportunity cost as predicted.

Suggested Citation

  • Freeman, David & Kimbrough, Erik O. & Reiss, J. Philipp, 2017. "Opportunity cost, inattention and the bidder's curse," Working Paper Series in Economics 101, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:kitwps:101
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2016. "Nonstandard bidder behavior in real-world auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 198-212.
    2. Vincent P. Crawford & Nagore Iriberri, 2007. "Level-k Auctions: Can a Nonequilibrium Model of Strategic Thinking Explain the Winner's Curse and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(6), pages 1721-1770, November.
    3. Isaac, R. Mark & Salmon, Timothy C. & Zillante, Arthur, 2007. "A theory of jump bidding in ascending auctions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 144-164, January.
    4. Backus, Matthew R. & Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2014. "Search costs and equilibrium price dispersion in auction markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 173-192.
    5. Hossain Tanjim & Morgan John, 2006. "...Plus Shipping and Handling: Revenue (Non) Equivalence in Field Experiments on eBay," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-30, January.
    6. Dan Ariely & Axel Ockenfels & Alvin E. Roth, 2005. "An Experimental Analysis of Ending Rules in Internet Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 890-907, Winter.
    7. David Gill & Victoria Prowse, 2012. "A Structural Analysis of Disappointment Aversion in a Real Effort Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 469-503, February.
    8. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2016. "Quantal Response Equilibrium:A Stochastic Theory of Games," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10743.
    9. Reiss, J. Philipp & Levin, Dan, 2013. "Could we overcome the Winner's Curse by (behavioral) auction design?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79926, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Henry S. Schneider, 2016. "The Bidder's Curse: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 1182-1194, April.
    11. repec:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9510-y is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Auctions; Bidder's Curse; Limited Attention; Experiments; Rational Ignorance;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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