Does Anonymity Affect the Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay Gap? A Generalization of Plott and Zeiler

17 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2014

See all articles by Alexander L. Brown

Alexander L. Brown

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics

Gregory Cohen

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: January 27, 2014

Abstract

Conventional value-elicitation experiments often find subjects provide higher valuations for items they posses than for identical items they may acquire. Plott and Zeiler (2005) replicate this willingness-to-pay/willingness-to-accept “gap” with conventional experimental procedures, but find no gap after implementing procedures that provide for subject anonymity and familiarity with the second price mechanism. This paper investigates whether anonymity is necessary for their result. We employ both types of procedures with and without anonymity. Contrary to predictions of one theory — which suggest social pressures may cause differences in subject valuations — we find, regardless of anonymity, conventional procedures generate gaps and Plott and Zeiler’s does not. These findings strongly suggest subject familiarity with elicitation mechanisms, not anonymity, is responsible for the variability in results across value-elicitation experiments. As an application to experimental design methodology, there appears to be little need to impose anonymity when using second-price mechanisms in standard consumer good experiments.

Suggested Citation

Brown, Alexander L. and Cohen, Gregory, Does Anonymity Affect the Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay Gap? A Generalization of Plott and Zeiler (January 27, 2014). Experimental Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2396075

Alexander L. Brown (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

4228 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4228
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HOME PAGE: http://econweb.tamu.edu/abrown/

Gregory Cohen

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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