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Information Avoidance

61 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2015 Last revised: 21 Feb 2016

Russell Golman

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

David Hagmann

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Date Written: February 17, 2016

Abstract

We commonly think of information as a means to an end. However, a growing theoretical and experimental literature suggests that information may directly enter the agent’s utility function. This can create an incentive to avoid information, even when it is useful, free, and independent of strategic considerations. We review research documenting the occurrence of information avoidance as well as theoretical and empirical research on reasons for why people avoid information, drawing from economics, psychology, and other disciplines. The review concludes with a discussion of some of the diverse (and often costly) individual and societal consequences
of information avoidance.

Keywords: information, information avoidance, behavioral economics

JEL Classification: D83, C90

Suggested Citation

Golman, Russell and Hagmann, David and Loewenstein, George, Information Avoidance (February 17, 2016). Journal of Economic Literature, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2633226 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2633226

Russell Golman

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

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

David Hagmann

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

Porter Hall 208
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
6469128602 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dhagmann.com

George F. Loewenstein (Contact Author)

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

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

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