Measuring Information Preferences

45 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2018

See all articles by Emily Ho

Emily Ho

Fordham University

David Hagmann

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Date Written: September 14, 2018

Abstract

Advances in medical testing and widespread access to the internet have made it easier than ever to obtain information. Yet, when it comes to some of the most important decisions in life, people often choose to remain ignorant for a variety of psychological and economical reasons. We design and validate an information preference scale to measure an individual’s desire to obtain or avoid information that may be unpleasant, but could improve their future decisions. The scale measures information preferences in three domains that are psychologically and materially consequential: consumer finance, personal characteristics, and health. We present tests of the scale’s reliability and validity and show that the scale predicts a real decision to obtain (or avoid) information in each of the three domains, as well as in the domain of politics, which is not explicitly measured in the scale. We find that across settings, many respondents prefer to remain in a state of active ignorance even when information is freely available, and that information preferences are a stable trait but can differ across domains. (Under R&R at Management Science)

Keywords: Information Avoidance, Scale Development, Information Preference, Health, Consumer Finance

JEL Classification: D83, D91, C90, I12

Suggested Citation

Ho, Emily and Hagmann, David and Loewenstein, George F., Measuring Information Preferences (September 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3249768 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3249768

Emily Ho (Contact Author)

Fordham University ( email )

113 West 60th Street
New York, NY 10023
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

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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