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Does response time predict withdrawal decisions? Lessons from a bank-run experiment

Hubert Janos Kiss (Közgazdaság- és Regionális Tudományi Kutatóközpont Közgazdaság-tudományi Intézete, Budapest, Hungary) (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary)
Ismael Rodriguez-Lara (Department of Economics, University of Granada, Granada, Spain) (Economic Science Institute (ESI), Chapman University, Orange, California, USA)
Alfonso Rosa-Garcia (Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y de la Empresa, Universidad Catolica San Antonio de Murcia, Murcia, Spain)

Review of Behavioral Finance

ISSN: 1940-5979

Article publication date: 12 November 2019

Issue publication date: 23 June 2020




The purpose of this paper is to analyze how response time in a laboratory experiment on bank runs affects withdrawal decisions.


In the authors’ setup, the bank has no fundamental problems, depositors decide sequentially whether to keep the money in the bank or to withdraw, and they may observe previous decisions depending on the information structure. The authors consider two levels of difficulty of decision-making conditional on the presence of strategic dominance and strategic uncertainty. The authors hypothesize that the more difficult the decision, the longer is the response time, and the predictive power of response time depends on difficulty.


The authors find that response time is longer in information sets with strategic uncertainty compared to those without (as expected), but the authors do not find such relationship when considering strategic dominance (contrary to the hypothesis). Response time correlates negatively with optimal decisions in information sets with a dominant strategy (contrary to the expectation) and also when decisions are obvious in the absence of strategic uncertainty (in line with the hypothesis). When there is strategic uncertainty, the authors find suggestive evidence that response time predicts optimal decisions.

Research limitations/implications

Being a laboratory experiment, it is questionable if depositors in real life behave similarly (external validity).

Practical implications

Since episodes of bank runs are characterized by strategic uncertainty, the result that under strategic uncertainty, longer response time leads to better decisions suggests that suspension of convertibility is a useful tool to curb banking panics.


To the best of authors’ knowledge, this is the first study concerning the relationship between response time and the optimality of decisions in a bank-run game.



This research was supported by the Higher Education Institutional Excellence Program of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology in the framework of the “Financial and Public Services” research project (Reference No. NKFIH-1163-10/2019) at Corvinus University of Budapest. The authors are also grateful for financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities under the project PGC2018-097875-A-I00 (Ismael Rodriguez-Lara), from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness ECO2017-82449-P (Hubert J. Kiss) and ECO2016-76178-P (Alfonso Rosa-Garcia). Hubert J. Kiss also thank the support from the National Research, Development Innovation (NKFIH) under project K 119683.


Kiss, H.J., Rodriguez-Lara, I. and Rosa-Garcia, A. (2020), "Does response time predict withdrawal decisions? Lessons from a bank-run experiment", Review of Behavioral Finance, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 200-222.



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