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Behavioral Implications of Rational Inattention with Shannon Entropy


  • Andrew Caplin
  • Mark Dean


The model of rational inattention with Shannon mutual information costs is increasingly ubiquitous. We introduce a new solution method that lays bare the general behavioral properties of this model and liberates development of alternative models. We experimentally test a key behavioral property characterizing the elasticity of choice mistakes with respect to attentional incentives. We find that subjects are less responsive to such changes than the model implies. We introduce generalized entropy cost functions that better match this feature of the data and that retain key simplifying features of the Shannon model.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2013. "Behavioral Implications of Rational Inattention with Shannon Entropy," NBER Working Papers 19318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19318
    Note: TWP EFG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emir Kamenica & Matthew Gentzkow, 2011. "Bayesian Persuasion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2590-2615, October.
    2. Bartosz Mackowiak & Mirko Wiederholt, 2009. "Optimal Sticky Prices under Rational Inattention," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 769-803, June.
    3. Filip Matêjka & Alisdair McKay, 2015. "Rational Inattention to Discrete Choices: A New Foundation for the Multinomial Logit Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 272-298, January.
    4. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    5. Ming Yang, 2011. "Coordination with Rational Inattention," Working Papers 1331, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Econometric Research Program..
    6. Ming Yang, 2011. "Coordination with Rational Inattention," Working Papers 1317, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Econometric Research Program..
    7. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jakub Steiner & Colin Stewart & Filip Matějka, 2017. "Rational Inattention Dynamics: Inertia and Delay in Decision‐Making," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 521-553, March.
    2. Eliaz, Kfir & Oren-Kolbinger, Orli & Weisburd, Sarit, 2017. "Limited Attention, Salience and Changing Prices: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Online Supermarket Shopping," CEPR Discussion Papers 12014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:131-145 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Russ, Meir, 2016. "The probable foundations of sustainabilism: Information, energy and entropy based definition of capital, Homo Sustainabiliticus and the need for a “new gold”," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 328-338.
    5. Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2015. "Revealed Preference, Rational Inattention, and Costly Information Acquisition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2183-2203, July.
    6. Lunn, Pete & Somerville, Jason J., 2015. "Surplus Identification with Non-Linear Returns," Papers WP522, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    7. Mariana Cunha & António Osório & Ricardo Ribeiro, 2016. "Endogenous product design and quality with rationally inattentive consumers," Working Papers de Economia (Economics Working Papers) 03, Católica Porto Business School, Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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