Behavioral Mechanism Design: Evidence from the Modified First-Price Auctions

Yusufcan Masatlioglu, Sarah Taylor, and Neslihan Uler , Review of Economic Design 16(2-3) , 159-173 , September 2012.

This paper tests the behavioral equivalence of a class of strategically-equivalent mechanisms that also do not differ in terms of their procedures. In a private value setting, we introduce a family of mechanisms, so-called Mechanism (α), that generalizes the standard first-price sealed-bid auction. In Mechanism (α), buyers are asked to submit a value which will then be multiplied by α to calculate the bids in the auction. When α = 1, Mechanism (α) is the standard first-price sealed-bid auction. We show that for any α, calculated bids should be identical across mechanisms. We conduct a laboratory experiment to test the behavioral equivalence of this class of mechanisms under different values of α. Even though the procedure and environment do not change across auctions, we do not observe the same bidding behavior across these strategically-equivalent mechanisms. Our research can inform mechanism design literature with respect to the design of optimal mechanisms.

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