Do Market Conditions Affect Preferences? Evidence from Experimental Markets with Excess Supply and Excess Demand
We study whether people's preferences in an unbalanced market are affected by whether they are on the excess supply side or the excess demand side of the market. Our analysis is based on the comparison of behavior between two types of experimental gift exchange markets, which vary only with respect to whether first or second movers are on the long side of the market. The direction of market imbalance could influence subjects' motivation, as second movers, workers, might react differently to favorable actions by first movers, firms, in the two cases. Our data show strong deviations from the standard game-theoretic prediction. However, we only find secondary treatment effects. First movers are not more generous when they are in excess supply and second movers do not respond less favorably when they are in excess demand. Competition has only minor psychological effects in our data.
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