Suspense and surprise

Jeffrey Ely*, Alexander Frankel, Emir Kamenica

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations

Abstract

We model demand for noninstrumental information, drawing on the idea that people derive entertainment utility from suspense and surprise. A period has more suspense if the variance of the next period’s beliefs is greater. A period has more surprise if the current belief is further from the last period’s belief. Under these definitions, we analyze the optimal way to reveal information over time so as to maximize expected suspense or surprise experienced by a Bayesian audience.We apply our results to the design of mystery novels, political primaries, casinos, game shows, auctions, and sports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-260
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Political Economy
Volume123
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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