Suspense and Surprise

Jeffrey Ely, Alexander Frankel, Emir Kamenica
2015 Journal of Political Economy  
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 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
more » ... ts to the design of mystery novels, political primaries, casinos, game shows, auctions, and sports. * We would like to thank
doi:10.1086/677350 fatcat:ppyqsuq7bvhbrfw3a4pzczddta