March 2016

IZA DP No. 9857: Procedures for Eliciting Time Preferences

revised version published in: Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, 2016, 126 (Part A), 235–242

We study three procedures to elicit attitudes towards delayed payments: the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak procedure; the second price auction; and the multiple price list. The payment mechanisms associated with these methods are widely considered as incentive compatible, thus if preferences satisfy Procedure Invariance, which is also widely (and often implicitly) assumed, they should yield identical time preference distributions. We find instead that the monetary discount rates elicited using the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak procedure are significantly lower than those elicited with a multiple price list. We show that the behavior we observe is consistent with an existing psychological explanation of preference reversals.