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Could we overcome the Winner's Curse by (behavioral) auction design?


  • Reiss, J. Philipp
  • Levin, Dan


The Winner s Curse (WC) is a non-equilibrium behavior in common-value auctions involving systematic and persistent overbidding that often results in signi ficant losses. It is one of the most robust fi ndings in laboratory experiments. We developed an auction mechanism with a payment rule that internalizes the adverse selection by inducing a simple strategy, sincere bidding, as no-regret equilibrium. Other less efficient payment rules, that use more than the minimal information needed, may also induce sincere bidding as equilibrium. However, given concerns with the WC, we study whether such less minimal rules can help bidders find their way to equilibrium bidding. Our main experimental fi ndings are that the no-regret minimal payment rule results in more WC than the English auction. Yet, a less efficient but more intuitive payment rule addresses overbidding better than the minimal payment rule and, remarkably for a static, sealed-bid design, matches the performance of the English auction.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79926

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Vlad Mares & Ronald Harstad, 2007. "Ex-post full surplus extraction, straightforwardly," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(2), pages 399-410, August.
    3. Oliver Kirchkamp & J. Philipp Reiß, 2011. "Out‐Of‐Equilibrium Bids in First‐Price Auctions: Wrong Expectations or Wrong Bids," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1361-1397, December.
    4. Lind, Barry & Plott, Charles R, 1991. "The Winner's Curse: Experiments with Buyers and with Sellers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 335-346, March.
    5. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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