Mechanism Design with News Utility
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News utility is the idea that the utility of an agent depends on changes in her beliefs over consumption and money. We introduce news utility into otherwise classical static Bayesian mechanism design models. We show that a key role is played by the timeline of the mechanism, i.e. whether there are delays between the announcement stage, the participation stage, the play stage and the realization stage of a mechanism. Depending on the timing, agents with news utility can experience two additional news utility effects: a surprise effect derived from comparing to pre-mechanism beliefs, as well as a realization effect derived from comparing post-play beliefs with the actual outcome of the mechanism. We look at two distinct mechanism design settings reflecting the two main strands of the classical literature. In the first model, a monopolist screens an agent according to the magnitude of her loss aversion. In the second model, we consider a general multi-agent Bayesian mechanism design setting where the uncertainty of each player stems from not knowing the intrinsic types of the other agents. We give applications to auctions and public good provision which illustrate how news utility changes classical results. For both models we characterize the optimal design of the timeline. A timeline featuring no delay between participation and play but a delay in realization is never optimal in either model. In the screening model the optimal timeline is one without delays. In auction settings, under fairly natural assumptions the optimal timeline has delays between all three stages of the mechanism.
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