An experiment on prediction markets in science

PLoS One. 2009 Dec 30;4(12):e8500. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008500.


Prediction markets are powerful forecasting tools. They have the potential to aggregate private information, to generate and disseminate a consensus among the market participants, and to provide incentives for information acquisition. These market functionalities can be very valuable for scientific research. Here, we report an experiment that examines the compatibility of prediction markets with the current practice of scientific publication. We investigated three settings. In the first setting, different pieces of information were disclosed to the public during the experiment. In the second setting, participants received private information. In the third setting, each piece of information was private at first, but was subsequently disclosed to the public. An automated, subsidizing market maker provided additional incentives for trading and mitigated liquidity problems. We find that the third setting combines the advantages of the first and second settings. Market performance was as good as in the setting with public information, and better than in the setting with private information. In contrast to the first setting, participants could benefit from information advantages. Thus the publication of information does not detract from the functionality of prediction markets. We conclude that for integrating prediction markets into the practice of scientific research it is of advantage to use subsidizing market makers, and to keep markets aligned with current publication practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Forecasting*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marketing / economics
  • Marketing / trends*
  • Publishing / economics
  • Science / trends*
  • Young Adult