IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/jeclit/v55y2017i1p96-135.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Information Avoidance

Author

Listed:
  • Russell Golman
  • David Hagmann
  • George Loewenstein

Abstract

We commonly think of information as a means to an end. However, a growing theoretical and experimental literature suggests that information may directly enter the agent's utility function. This can create an incentive to avoid information, even when it is useful, free, and independent of strategic considerations. We review research documenting the occurrence of information avoidance, as well as theoretical and empirical research on reasons why people avoid information, drawing from economics, psychology, and other disciplines. The review concludes with a discussion of some of the diverse (and often costly) individual and societal consequences of information avoidance.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell Golman & David Hagmann & George Loewenstein, 2017. "Information Avoidance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 96-135, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:1:p:96-135
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.20151245
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jel.20151245
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles/attachments?retrieve=pQJ3NDnNzrbSvJl4pAWKr-V_MLhKk-0F
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Anders Poulsen & Michael Roos, 2010. "Do people make strategic commitments? Experimental evidence on strategic information avoidance," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(2), pages 206-225, June.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
    3. Emily Oster & Ira Shoulson & E. Ray Dorsey, 2013. "Optimal Expectations and Limited Medical Testing: Evidence from Huntington Disease," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 804-830, April.
    4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 1065-1188, November.
    5. Nyborg, Karine, 2011. "I don't want to hear about it: Rational ignorance among duty-oriented consumers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 263-274, August.
    6. Edward P. Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto A. Weber, 2012. "Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 136-163, January.
    7. Andrea Prat, 2005. "The Wrong Kind of Transparency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 862-877, June.
    8. van Damme, Eric, 1989. "Stable equilibria and forward induction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 476-496, August.
    9. Schmidt, Klaus M, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization: An Incomplete Contracts Approach," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-24, April.
    10. Stephanie Lau, 2008. "Information and bargaining in the hold-up problem," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 266-282.
    11. Tomasz Strzalecki, 2013. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Recursive Models of Ambiguity Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(3), pages 1039-1074, May.
    12. Daniel Krähmer & Rebecca Stone, 2013. "Anticipated regret as an explanation of uncertainty aversion," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(2), pages 709-728, March.
    13. James M. Sallee, 2014. "Rational Inattention and Energy Efficiency," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(3), pages 781-820.
    14. Thomas R. Palfrey, 1982. "Risk Advantages and Information Acquisition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 219-224, Spring.
    15. William P. Rogerson, 1992. "Contractual Solutions to the Hold-Up Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 777-793.
    16. Jean-Pierre Ponssard, 1976. "On the Concept of the Value of Information in Competitive Situations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(7), pages 739-747, March.
    17. Arthur Snow, 2010. "Ambiguity and the value of information," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 133-145, April.
    18. Nachum Sicherman & George Loewenstein & Duane J. Seppi & Stephen P. Utkus, 2016. "Editor's Choice Financial Attention," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(4), pages 863-897.
    19. Rebecca L. Thornton, 2008. "The Demand for, and Impact of, Learning HIV Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1829-1863, December.
    20. George Loewenstein & Don Moore & Roberto Weber, 2006. "Misperceiving the value of information in predicting the performance of others," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(3), pages 281-295, September.
    21. Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Procurement and Renegotiation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 235-259, April.
    22. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-684, September.
    23. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1982. "Regret Theory: An Alternative Theory of Rational Choice under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 805-824, December.
    24. Graham Loomes & Robert Sugden, 1986. "Disappointment and Dynamic Consistency in Choice under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(2), pages 271-282.
    25. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1987. "Some implications of a more general form of regret theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 270-287, April.
    26. Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio, 1999. "The Aversion to the Sequential Resolution of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 249-269, October.
    27. Randolph Sloof & Hessel Oosterbeek & Joep Sonnemans, 2007. "Does Making Specific Investments Unobservable Boost Investment Incentives?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 911-942, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:sochwe:v:49:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1070-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:kap:theord:v:84:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11238-017-9610-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Giovanna d’Adda & Yu Gao & Russell Golman & Massimo Tavoni, 2018. "It’s So Hot in Here: Information Avoidance, Moral Wiggle Room, and High Air Conditioning Usage," Working Papers 2018.07, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    4. Jacky MATHONNAT & Aurore PELISSIER, 2017. "How a Results-Based Financing approach can contribute to the health Sustainable Development Goals - Policy-oriented lessons: what we know, what we need to know and don’t yet know," Working Papers P204, FERDI.
    5. repec:kap:geneva:v:43:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1057_s10713-018-0025-z is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Jacky MATHONNAT & Aurore PELISSIER, 2017. "How a Results-Based Financing approach can contribute to the health Sustainable Development Goals - Policy-oriented lessons: what we know, what we need to know and don’t yet know," Working Papers P204, FERDI.
    7. repec:eee:pubeco:v:158:y:2018:i:c:p:152-167 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:jhecon:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:228-252 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Exley, Christine L. & Petrie, Ragan, 2018. "The impact of a surprise donation ask," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 152-167.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:1:p:96-135. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.