Working Papers in Economics and Statistics 2015-16
In an experiment we first elicit the distributional preferences of subjects and then let them bid for a lottery, either in a Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) mechanism or a Vickrey auction (VA). Standard theory predicts that altruistic subjects underbid in the VA - compared to the BDM - while spiteful subjects overbid in the VA. The data do not confirm those predictions. While we observe aggregate underbidding in the VA, the result is not driven by the choices of altruistic subjects.