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No need to wait for “Suspense and Surprise”

kamenicaIf you have been waiting for “Suspense and Surprise”, your vigil is over. A PDF version of the paper is online. (Thanks to investigator Nathan Randall for bringing this to our attention.) The paper, of course, is the long-awaited (if you have been waiting long for it):

“Suspense and Surprise,” Jeffrey Ely, Alexander Frankel, Emir Kamenica [pictured here], to be published in the Journal of Political Economy. The authors, at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, explain:

“We model demand for non-instrumental information, drawing on the idea that people derive entertainment utility from suspense and surprise. A period has more suspense of 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.”

Here’s further detail:

And here are the key aspects of suspense and surprise, as presented in the paper:

BONUS: A video of Professor Ely demonstrating suspense and surprise in artfully pouring a latte:


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