Behavioral Inattention

98 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2018

See all articles by Xavier Gabaix

Xavier Gabaix

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

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Date Written: October 2018

Abstract

Inattention is a central, unifying theme for much of behavioral economics. It permeates such disparate fields as microeconomics, macroeconomics, finance, public economics, and industrial organization. It enables us to think in a rather consistent way about behavioral biases, speculate about their origins, and trace out their implications for market outcomes.

This survey first discusses the most basic models of attention, using a fairly unified framework. Then, it discusses the methods used to measure attention, which present a number of challenges on which a great deal of progress has been achieved, although much more work needs to be done. It then examines the various theories of attention, both behavioral and more Bayesian. It finally discusses some applications. For instance, inattention offers a way to write a behavioral version of basic microeconomics, as in consumer theory and Arrow-Debreu. A last section is devoted to open questions in the attention literature.

This chapter is a pedagogical guide to the literature on attention. Derivations are self-contained.

Suggested Citation

Gabaix, Xavier, Behavioral Inattention (October 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13268. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3270947

Xavier Gabaix (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

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B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

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