Consumer Search Costs and Preferences on the Internet

Date: 2014-11
By: Jolivet, Grégory (University of Bristol)
Turon, Hélène (University of Bristol)
We analyse consumers’ search and purchase decisions on an Internet platform. Using a rich dataset on all adverts posted and transactions made on a major French Internet platform (PriceMinister), we show evidence of substantial price dispersion among adverts for the same product. We also show that consumers do not necessarily choose the cheapest advert available and sometimes even choose an advert that is dominated in price and non-price characteristics (such as seller’s reputation) by another available advert. To explain the transactions observed on the platform, we derive and estimate a structural model of sequential directed search where consumers observe all advert prices but have to pay a search cost to see the other advert characteristics. We allow for flexible heterogeneity in consumers’ preferences and search costs. After deriving tractable identification conditions for our model, we estimate sets of parameters that can rationalize each transaction. Our model can predict a wide range of consumer search strategies and fits almost all transactions observed in our sample. We find empirical evidence of heterogenous, sometimes positive and substantially large search costs and marginal willingness to pay for advert hedonic characteristics.
Keywords: consumer search, revealed preferences, individual heterogeneity, price dispersion, internet
JEL: C13 D12 D81 D83 L13

“Read my Lips!" Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Electoral Competition on Shirking and Trust

Date: 2014-11-30
By: Gari Walkowitz (University of Cologne)
Arne R. Weiss (University of Cologne)
We experimentally test whether electoral competition reduces shirking behavior by office-holders and increases citizens’ trust. We hypothesize that competition increases campaign promises by office-holders, who feel committed to what they promise. Using a novel repeated multi-person investment-game with periodic elections, we indeed find that elected office-holders shirk less (i.e., they back-transfer more to citizens relative to investments) as compared to randomly appointed office-holders. Surprisingly, this effect cannot be explained through competition inflating the level of electoral promises. Nevertheless, promises do matter; in fact, they carry greater weight for the behavior of elected office-holders than for their randomly appointed counterparts. Elections also have a positive short-term effect on citizens’ trust by cutting off both low and excessively high promises.
Keywords: elections, promises, shirking, trust game
JEL: D72 D02 D03 C71 C91

Leaders as Role Models for the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods

Date: 2014-10
By: Gächter, Simon (University of Nottingham)
Renner, Elke (University of Nottingham)
We investigate the link between leadership, beliefs and pro-social behavior. This link is interesting because field evidence suggests that people’s behavior in domains like charitable giving, tax evasion, corporate culture and corruption is influenced by leaders (CEOs, politicians) and beliefs about others’ behavior. Our framework is an experimental public goods game with a leader. We find that leaders strongly shape their followers’ initial beliefs and contributions. In later rounds, followers put more weight on other followers’ past behavior than on the leader’s current action. This creates a path dependency the leader can hardly correct. We discuss the implications for understanding belief effects in naturally occurring situations.
Keywords: leadership, beliefs, experiments, public goods, path dependency, public policy, management
JEL: C72 C90 H41 Z13

Learning, Words and Actions: Experimental Evidence on Coordination-Improving Information

Date: 2013-07
By: Nicolas Jacquemet (EEP-PSE – Ecole d’Économie de Paris – Paris School of Economics – Ecole d’Économie de Paris, BETA – Bureau d’économie théorique et appliquée – CNRS : UMR7522 – Université de Strasbourg – Université Nancy II)
Adam Zylbersztejn (EEP-PSE – Ecole d’Économie de Paris – Paris School of Economics – Ecole d’Économie de Paris, CES – Centre d’économie de la Sorbonne – CNRS : UMR8174 – Université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne)
We experimentally study an asymmetric coordination game with two Nash equilibria: one is Pareto-efficient, the other is Pareto-inefficient and involves a weakly dominated strategy. We assess whether information about the interaction partner helps eliminate the imperfect equilibrium. Our treatments involve three information-enhancing mechanisms: repetition and two kinds of individual signals: messages from partner or observation of his past choices. Repetition-based learning increases the frequencies of the most efficient outcome and the most costly strategic mismatch. Moreover, it is superseded by individual signals. Like previous empirical studies, we find that signals provide a screening of partners’ intentions that reduces the frequency of coordination failures. Unlike these studies, we find that the transmission of information between partners, either via messages or observation, does not suffice to significantly increase the overall efficiency of outcomes. This happens mostly because information does not restrain the choice of the dominated action by senders.
Keywords: coordination game; communication; cheap-talk; observation

Individual Characteristics and Behavior in Repeated Games: An Experimental Study

Date: 2014-10
By: Douglas Davis (Virginia Commonwealth University)
Asen Ivanov (Queen Mary University of London)
Oleg Korenok (Virginia Commonwealth University)
Using a laboratory experiment, we investigate whether a variety of behaviors in repeated games are related to an array of individual characteristics that are popular in economics: risk attitude, time preference, trust, trustworthiness, altruism, strategic skills in one-shot matrix games, compliance with first-order stochastic dominance, ability to plan ahead, and gender. We do find some systematic relationships. A subject’s patience, gender, altruism, and compliance with first-order stochastic dominance have some limited systematic effects on her behavior in repeated games. At the level of a pair of subjects who are playing a repeated game, each subject’s patience, gender, and ability to choose an available dominant strategy in a one-shot matrix game systematically affect the frequency of the cooperate-cooperate outcome. However, overall, the number of systematic relationships is surprisingly small.
Keywords: Experiment, Repeated game, Individual characteristics
JEL: C91 C92 D03 D70