What people want, cognitive goods, models of persuasion and why we avoid important information: the cognitive economics session at the AEA conference

For the first time, there will be a session on Cognitive Economics at the American Economic Association’s conference. The conference, in association with the ASSA, is taking place from Friday 4 January to Sunday 6 January and will be a hugely interesting programme over the long weekend.

The Cognitive Economics session will take place on Sunday 6 January 2019 at 8-10am in Atlanta Marriott Marquis, International 10. I hope that any readers who are attending the conference are able to come along!

Let’s give you a quick overview of the session:
  • Dan Benjamin, University of Southern California; Kristen Cooper, Gordon College; Ori Heffetz, Cornell University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Miles Kimball, University of Colorado Boulder will be presenting a paper on What Do People Want? On the use of large-scale surveys to estimate multidimensional indifference maps over "fundamental" goods that include mental states such as emotions, perceptions and beliefs: answering the question “What do people really want?”
  • David Hagmann, Carnegie Mellon University; George Loewenstein, Carnegie Mellon University will be presenting a paper on Persuasion with Motivated Beliefs. Focusing on a two-stage model of persuasion in the presence of belief-protecting strategies and testing it in an incentive-compatible task. Exploring why people remain attached to existing beliefs and what it might take to change them.
  • Emily Ho, Fordham University; David Hagmann, Carnegie Mellon University; George Loewenstein, Carnegie Mellon University will be presenting a paper on Measuring Information Preferences. Focusing on measuring an individual's desire to obtain or avoid information that may be unpleasant, but could improve their future decisions; specifically looking at three psychological and materially consequential domains: health, consumer finance, and personal characteristics. In other words: why do we want to avoid bad news?
  • Leigh Caldwell [your humble blogger], founder of Irrational Agency and Inon will be presenting Cognitive Goods, Normal Goods and the Market for Information. Focusing on the relationship between cognitive goods and the value the agent is willing to pay to maintain or change these cognitive goods, the paper explains the conditions in which this thinking occurs and the consequences of this phenomena on the economy and digital markets.
  • Claudia Sahm from the Federal Reserve Board will be acting as Chair.
We’ve purposefully changed the structure of the session to allow for an extended closing panel with a Q&A from the audience. On the closing panel will be George Loewenstein, Miles Kimball, and Leigh Caldwell. We hope that the novel structure of the session will allow us both to share these new research papers and the big-picture perspectives on the research agenda for cognitive economics. It should be a really great way to have so many voices throughout the session.

If you would like further info on the conference, have a look here. If you would like to read the abstracts for each paper, all the details are here.

I will make sure Leigh reports back on his return about the session and the conference in general. Exciting times to have cognitive economics being recognised as the burgeoning field it is within this flagship conference.

Tweet any thoughts to me on @TaraECooper or Leigh on @leighblue.


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