Curiosity, Information Gaps, and the Utility of Knowledge
25 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2012 Last revised: 13 May 2015
Date Written: April 16, 2015
We use an information-gap framework to capture the diverse motives driving the preference to obtain or avoid information. Beyond the conventional desire for information as an input to decision making, people are driven by curiosity, which is a desire for knowledge for its own sake, even in the absence of material benefits, and people are additionally motivated to seek out information about issues they like thinking about and avoid information about issues they do not like thinking about (an “ostrich effect”). The standard economic framework is enriched with the insights that knowledge has valence, that ceteris paribus people want to fill in information gaps, and that, beyond contributing to knowledge, information affects the focus of attention.
Keywords: curiosity, information, information gap, motivated attention, ostrich effect
JEL Classification: D81, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation