The Paradox of Alypius and the Pursuit of Unwanted Information

39 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2006

See all articles by Justin Kruger

Justin Kruger

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; New York University (NYU); New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Matt Evans

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: September 1, 2006

Abstract

Prior work has found that people occasionally seek useless information, a violation of strict rationality. The present work examined whether and why curiosity can also cause individuals to seek harmful information. In five experiments, participants were given the opportunity to gain knowledge of questionable personal value. In each case, participants focused on their curiosity about the information and underweighted its consequences. As a result, participants tended to seek knowledge that they believed they would be better off without. Consistent with Loewenstein's (1996) analysis of visceral factors in decision making, these effects diminished with a time delay and when deciding whether to expose someone else to unpleasant information. These results present a counterpoint to traditional hedonistic models of human motivation.

Keywords: curiosity, judgment and decision making, heuristics and biases, motivation

Suggested Citation

Kruger, Justin and Evans, Matt, The Paradox of Alypius and the Pursuit of Unwanted Information (September 1, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=945641 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.945641

Justin Kruger (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

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New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
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New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

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Matt Evans

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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