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Suspense and Surprise

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffrey Ely
  • Alexander Frankel
  • Emir Kamenica

Abstract

We model demand for noninstrumental information, drawing on the idea that people derive entertainment utility from suspense and surprise. A period has more suspense if the variance of the next period's beliefs is greater. A period has more surprise if the current belief is further from the last period's belief. Under these definitions, we analyze the optimal way to reveal information over time so as to maximize expected suspense or surprise experienced by a Bayesian audience. We apply our results to the design of mystery novels, political primaries, casinos, game shows, auctions, and sports.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Ely & Alexander Frankel & Emir Kamenica, 2015. "Suspense and Surprise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(1), pages 215-260.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/677350
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dillenberger, David, 2008. "Preferences for One-Shot Resolution of Uncertainty and Allais-Type Behavior," MPRA Paper 8342, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Brian Knight & Nathan Schiff, 2010. "Momentum and Social Learning in Presidential Primaries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1110-1150.
    3. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    4. DE MEYER, Bernard, 1996. "The Maximal Variation of a Bounded Martingale and the Central Limit Theorem," CORE Discussion Papers 1996035, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Larbi Alaoui & Fabrizio Germano, 2012. "Time scarcity and the market for news," Economics Working Papers 1348, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 2014.
    2. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2017. "Information Design: A Unified Perspective," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2075R2, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Nov 2017.
    3. Klaus Wälde, "undated". "Stress and Coping - An Economic Approach," Working Papers 1514, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
    4. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:95-113 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Pak Hung Au, 2015. "Dynamic information disclosure," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(4), pages 791-823, October.
    6. Gorkem Celik, 2015. "Implementation by Gradual Revelation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 271-296, June.
    7. Feng, Xin & Lu, Jingfeng, 2016. "The optimal disclosure policy in contests with stochastic entry: A Bayesian persuasion perspective," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 103-107.
    8. repec:eee:reecon:v:72:y:2018:i:1:p:49-64 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Brian M. Mills & Michael Mondello & Scott Tainsky, 2016. "Competition in shared markets and Major League Baseball broadcast viewership," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(32), pages 3020-3032, July.
    10. Bizzozero, Paolo & Flepp, Raphael & Franck, Egon, 2016. "The importance of suspense and surprise in entertainment demand: Evidence from Wimbledon," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 47-63.

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