Individual differences in information-seeking

Vast amounts of personalized information are now available to individuals. A vital research challenge is to establish how people decide what information they wish to obtain. 
People’s decisions about whether to seek or avoid information are related to an integration of the
– instrumental value,
– hedonic value and
– cognitive value of information.

Individual differences in information seeking reflect varying emphasis on these values, which in turn provides clues about participants mental health.
This could be used to facilitate policy makers’ ability to calculate the costs and benefits of information disclosure.
Moreover, by presenting information in a way that taps into the three motives of information seeking, policy makers may increase the likelihood that individuals will engage with and benefit from vital information.

Full article available at

This article builds on the ideas of “How people decide what they want to know

It is increasingly possible for people to obtain information that bears on their future prospects, in terms of health, finance and even romance.
It is also increasingly possible for them to obtain information about the past, the present and the future, whether or not that information bears on their personal lives. In principle, people’s decisions about whether to seek or avoid information should depend on some integration of instrumental value, hedonic value and cognitive value.
But various biases can lead to both insufficient and excessive information-seeking. Individual differences in information-seeking may reflect different levels of susceptibility to those biases, as well as varying emphasis on instrumental, hedonic and cognitive utility.
Such differences may also be diagnostic of mental health.
Whether positive or negative, the value of information bears directly on significant decisions of government agencies, which are often charged with calculating the welfare effects of mandatory disclosure and which have long struggled with that task.

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