Seminar Series

The New New Economics of Information


Professor George Loewenstein


Carnegie Mellon University

Time & Place

Fri, 17 Mar 2023 17:15:00 NZDT in Rehua 226 (Te Moana nui a Kiwa)


Economists typically assume that information is valuable to the extent that it helps us to make better decisions, and only to that extent. In this talk, however, I will summarize research in four different areas that highlights the complexities and quirks of how people actually deal with information.

In some cases, motivated by curiosity, people seek out information that has no value for decision making, and that even makes them predictably worse off. Opposite to curiosity, however, in other situations people avoid information that could inform decisions if the information threatens to be painful.

People also sometimes withhold information, due to privacy concerns, when it makes no sense to do so, but impulsively or compulsively share information when they would be better off not doing so. Understanding the quirky, and often self-destructive, ways that people interact with information is helpful for understanding social and economic developments in the internet age.



About the speaker

Professor George Loewenstein is the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, and currently holds a visiting professor position at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Arctic University of Norway (in Tromsø, Norway), and at the BRIQ Institute on Behaviour and Inequality, at the University of Bonn, Germany.

Professor Loewenstein received his PhD from Yale University in 1985 and since then has held academic positions at The University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University, and fellowships at Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences, The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, The Russell Sage Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin and the London School of Economics.

Professor Loewenstein helped to found the field of behavioural economics, the field of neuroeconomics, and was one of the early proponents of a new approach to public policy called, variously, ‘asymmetric’ or ‘libertarian’ paternalism. He has published over 300 journal articles in journals in economics, psychology, law, medicine and other fields, numerous book chapters, has written or edited 6 books on topics ranging from intertemporal choice to behavioural economics and emotions, and has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals in different fields.