The Becker–DeGroot–Marschak method (BDM), named after Gordon M. Becker, Morris H. DeGroot and Jacob Marschak for the 1964 Behavioral Science paper, "Measuring Utility by a Single-Response Sequential Method" is an incentive-compatible procedure used in experimental economics to measure willingness to pay (WTP).
Today there are several variations of the BDM methodology. In one common way, the subject formulates a bid. The bid is compared to a price determined by a random number generator. If the subject's bid is greater than the price, he or she pays the price and receives the item being auctioned. If the subject's bid is lower than the price, he or she pays nothing and receives nothing.
In another common method, the subject is presented with a series of sequentially increasing or random-order monetary amounts. They must decide if they would prefer to have that amount of money or the item at hand. Then, one of these numbers is chosen either specifically by the experimenter or is randomly generated. If the chosen number is less than the amount of money at which the subject stated they would prefer the item, the subject must purchase the item.
From the subject's perspective, the method is equivalent to a Vickrey auction against an unknown bidder. BDM's incentive compatibility relies on similar arguments to that of the Vickrey auction. There are some theoretical objections to the idea that the BDM is truly incentive-compatible, but it remains widely used. The BDM method is most widely used in experimental economics, but has also been used in the domains of agriculture and marketing.
An early attempt at a BDM-type method was by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1797 he asked a publisher how much he would be willing to pay for his new poem Hermann and Dorothea and revealed that he had sent a sealed letter to his lawyer with a reserve amount. If the publisher's stated amount was greater than the reserve, the publisher just paid the reserve amount. Otherwise, the publisher did not receive the poem. Unfortunately, Goethe's lawyer divulged the reserve amount to the publisher so that the publisher's true willingness to pay was not revealed.
- Becker GM, DeGroot MH, Marschak J (July 1964). "Measuring utility by a single-response sequential method". Behav Sci 9 (3): 226–32. doi:10.1002/bs.3830090304. PMID 5888778.
- Kaas, K.P., Ruprecht, H. (January 2006). "Are the Vikrey Auction and the BDM Mechanism Really Incentive Compatible? Empirical Results and Optimal Bidding Strategies in Cases of Uncertain Willingness-to-pay" (PDF). Schmalenbach Business Review 58: 37–55.
- Shogren, Jason F.; Jayson Lusk (2007). Experimental auctions: methods and applications in economic and marketing research. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-67124-8.
- Cunningham, Cody F. (2003). The Impact of Information on Willingness-to-pay for Bison (MSc thesis). College of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan.
- Wertenbroch, K., Skiera, B. (May 2002). "Measuring Consumers’ Willingness to Pay at the Point of Purchase". Journal of Marketing Research 39 (2): 228–241. doi:10.1509/jmkr.220.127.116.1186.
- Moldovanu, Benny and Tietzel, Manfred (1998). "Goethe's Second-Price Auction". Journal of Political Economy 106 (4): 854–859. doi:10.1086/250032.
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