Asymmetric Search and Loss Aversion: Choice Experiment on Consumer Willingness to Search in the Gasoline Retail Market
30 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2010 Last revised: 22 Nov 2011
Date Written: June 14, 2010
We use an internet survey conducted among a random sample of 490 drivers in the State of Ohio to answer the question, “When are consumers more likely to search?” The internet survey affords us the opportunity to overcome endogeneity difficulties with market observation data by imposing exogenous price changes in a random sample of gasoline consumers to examine the decision-making process behind intended search decisions. Results indicate that among the respondents who faced prices below their expected price, only 12% chose to search, whereas 45% searched when prices were above. Results suggest that asymmetric search can be explained by prospect theory, in the sense that consumers evaluate current prices compared to a reference price, and as a consequence they value price increases differently from price decreases. Our findings indicate that in the gasoline retail market, consumers are allowing retailers to extract consumer surplus by exhibiting loss aversion because this behavior deters search when the probability of finding a lower price is highest.
Keywords: Price Search, Choice Experiment, Search Cost, Gasoline Market
JEL Classification: D83, D03
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation