Style as an Attention Technology

7 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2006 Last revised: 13 Dec 2008

See all articles by David A. Hirshleifer

David A. Hirshleifer

University of California, Irvine - Paul Merage School of Business; NBER

Date Written: March 1, 2006


What is the point of style? According to Richard Lanham in his book, The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information, style is the means by which attention is attracted and allocated. Lanham's book describes the triumph of 'fluff' over 'stuff' (information over objects) and the importance of intellectual property. Wealth effects and shifts in the distribution costs can help explain a shift over time from stuff to fluff. A deep economics of attention will require digging into the technology of attention allocation, and into the conflicts of interest between those who seek to attract the attention of others and those who seek to allocate their own scarce attention effectively. An understanding the role of style in therefore essential for building an economics of attention.

Keywords: attention, style, technology

JEL Classification: M30, Z10, D89, K11

Suggested Citation

Hirshleifer, David A., Style as an Attention Technology (March 1, 2006). Journal of Bioeconomics, 2009. Available at SSRN: or

David A. Hirshleifer (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Paul Merage School of Business ( email )

Irvine, CA California 92697-3125
United States


NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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