Abstract: Drawing on representative samples of the U.S. population with more than 15,000 respondents in total, we measure and experimentally vary people's beliefs about the informativeness of news. Inconsistent with the desire for more information being the dominant motive for people's news consumption, treated respondents who think that a newspaper is less likely to suppress information reduce their demand for news from this newspaper. Furthermore, treated respondents who think that a news outlet is more likely to make false claims do not reduce their demand for this outlet. These findings strongly suggest that people have other motives to read news that sometimes conflict with their desire for more information. We discuss the implications of our findings for the regulation of media markets.
Abstract: Standard consumption utility is linked in time to a consumption event, whereas the timing of prosocial utility flows is ambiguous. Prosocial utility may depend on the actual utility consequences for others – it is consequence-dated – or it may be related to the act of giving and is thus choice-dated. Even though most prosocial decisions involve intertemporal trade-offs, existing models of other-regarding preferences abstract from the time signature of utility flows, limiting their explanatory scope. Building on a canonical intertemporal choice framework, we characterize the behavioral implications of the time structure of prosocial utility. We conduct a high-stakes donation experiment that allows us to identify non-parametrically and calibrate structurally the different motives from their unique time profiles. We find that the universe of our choice data can only be explained by a combination of choice- and consequence-dated prosocial utility. Both motives are pervasive and negatively correlated at the individual level.
Work in Progress
Media Narratives and Consumption