Working Paper No. 995

Attention Manipulation and Information Overload

Published: December 13, 2013Pages: 54Keywords: Communication; Information Overload; Limited Attention; Persuasion; Disclosure; Complexity; Consumer Protection; SalienceJEL-codes: D82; D83; D18; M38
Published version

Attention Manipulation and Information Overload Petra Persson


When a decision-maker’s attention is limited, her decisions depend on what she focuses on. This gives interested parties an incentive to manipulate not only the substance of communication but also the decision-maker’s attention allocation. This paper models such attention manipulation. In its presence, competitive information supply can reduce the decision-maker’s knowledge by causing information overload. Further, a single information provider may deliberately induce information overload to conceal information. These findings, pertinent to consumer protection, suggest a role for rules that restrict communication, mandate not only the content but also the format of disclosure, and regulate product design.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union in a Changing World Order

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This book explores how the European Union responds to the ongoing challenges to the liberal international order. These challenges arise both within the EU itself and beyond its borders, and put into question the values of free trade and liberal democracy. 

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