The Economics of Attention

64 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2023 Last revised: 13 Oct 2023

See all articles by George Loewenstein

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Zachary Wojtowicz

Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Harvard Business School

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Date Written: February 23, 2023

Abstract

Attention is a pivotal resource in the modern economy and plays an increasingly prominent role in economic analysis. We summarize research on attention from both psychology and economics, placing a particular emphasis on its capacity to explain numerous documented violations of classical economic theory. We also propose promising new directions for future research, including attention-based utility, the recent proliferation of attentional externalities introduced by digital technology, the potential for artificial intelligence to compete with human attention, and the significant role that boredom, curiosity, and other motivational states play in determining how people allocate attention.

Keywords: attention, motivation, behavioral bias, information, learning, education, artificial intelligence, machine learning, future of work

JEL Classification: D83, D90, D91, I00

Suggested Citation

Loewenstein, George F. and Wojtowicz, Zachary, The Economics of Attention (February 23, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4368304 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4368304

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)

Zachary Wojtowicz

Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ( email )

Littauer Center
1805 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard Business School ( email )

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