Theory and Decision

, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 421–447 | Cite as

Varying the number of bidders in the first-price sealed-bid auction: experimental evidence for the one-shot game

  • Sascha Füllbrunn
  • Tibor Neugebauer


The paper reports experimental data on the behavior in the first-price sealed-bid auction for a varying number of bidders when values and bids are private information. This feedback-free design is proposed for the experimental test of the one-shot game situation. We consider both within-subjects and between-subjects variations. In line with the qualitative risk neutral Nash equilibrium prediction, the data show that bids increase in the number of bidders. However, in auctions involving a small number of bidders, average bids are above, and in auctions involving a larger number of bidders, average bids are below the risk neutral equilibrium prediction. The quartile analysis reveals that bidding behavior is not constant across the full value range for a given number of bidders. On the high value quartiles, however, the average bid–value ratio is not different from the risk neutral prediction. The behavior is different when the winning bid is revealed after each repetition.


First-price sealed-bid auction Experiment Within-subject variation Between-subject variation Feedback 

JEL codes

C92 D44 



We acknowledge helpful comments from Utz Weizel, Olivier Armantier, Jordi Brandts, James Cox, Vince Crawford, Jacob Goeree, Veronika Grimm, Charles Holt, Heidrun Hoppe, Rudi Kerschbamer, Paul Pezanis-Christou, Amnon Rapoport, Karim Sadrieh, Reinhard Selten and other participants at the GfeW meeting in Goslar, the international ESA meeting in Rome and the local ESA meeting in Tucson. Financial support through the EU-TMR Research Network ENDEAR (FMRX-CT98-0238), Recherche-UL (F2R-LSF-PUL-09BFAM), and the Department of Economics at Radboud University Nijmegen is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsRadboud University Nijmegen NijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Luxembourg School of FinanceUniversité de Luxembourg LuxembourgLuxembourg

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