The Demand for, and Avoidance of, Information

72 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2012 Last revised: 11 Jun 2019

See all articles by Russell Golman

Russell Golman

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Andras Molnar

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Students

Silvia Saccardo

Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Date Written: May 31, 2019

Abstract

We propose and experimentally test a new theory of information seeking and avoidance. Beyond the conventional desire for information as an input to decision making, people are driven by curiosity, which is a desire to fill information gaps, even in the absence of material benefits. People are additionally motivated to seek out information about issues they like thinking about (a “savoring effect”) and avoid information about issues they do not like thinking about (an “ostrich effect”) because information attracts attention. We test and find evidence supporting three of the primary hypotheses derived from our theory: people display stronger demand for information when it seems more important, when it is more salient, and when it has higher valence.

Keywords: curiosity, information, information gap, motivated attention, ostrich effect

JEL Classification: D81, D83

Suggested Citation

Golman, Russell and Loewenstein, George F. and Molnar, Andras and Saccardo, Silvia, The Demand for, and Avoidance of, Information (May 31, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2149362 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2149362

Russell Golman (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

George F. Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-8787 (Phone)
412-268-6938 (Fax)

Andras Molnar

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Students ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA
United States

Silvia Saccardo

Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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