George Loewenstein, Ph.D. (Carnegie Mellon)
Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology
Department of Social and Decision Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University
“Boredom and Flow: An Opportunity Cost Theory of Attention-Directing Motivational States”
19 W 4th Street, Room 517*
We argue that the motivation states of boredom and flow help individuals to efficiently allocate attention– a scarce cognitive resource– by encoding information about the opportunity cost of maintaining attention in a hedonic signal. We develop a dual-self model in which one self (the executive) makes the final decision about how to allocate attention, but expends attention to do so, while the other self (the advisor) biases this decision with a hedonic signal that does not use attention. The resulting utility specification makes novel behavioral predictions, has important implications for welfare analysis, and provides a unified explanation of existing empirical evidence.
I am the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, and currently hold visiting professor positions at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Arctic University of Norway (in Tromsø, Norway), and at the BRIQ Institute on Behavior and Inequality, at the University of Bonn, Germany. I received my PhD from Yale University in 1985 and since then have held academic positions at The University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University, and fellowships at Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral 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. I am past president of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
My research focuses on applications of psychology to economics and, more recently, applications of economics to psychology (e.g., economic analyses of boredom, insecure self-esteem, and of the reluctance to thank and apologize). Specific interests include belief-based utility, the psychology and economics of attention, learning and forgetting, motivational feeling states associated with cognition (e.g., boredom, curiosity and mental effort), intertemporal choice, bargaining and negotiations, psychology and health, law and economics, the psychology of adaptation, the role of emotion in decision making, the psychology of curiosity, conflict of interest, various aspects of sex, unethical behavior, and issues involving research ethics. Links that will enable you to download my papers dealing with all of these topics are in my CV, which is organized by topic area. You can also access my publications on google scholar.