Mark Dean

Columbia University
420 W 118th Street
New York, NY 10027

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2017Rationally Inattentive Behavior: Characterizing and Generalizing Shannon Entropy
with Andrew Caplin, John Leahy: w23652
We provide a full behavioral characterization of the standard Shannon model of rational inattention. The key axiom is "Invariance under Compression", which identifies this model as capturing an ideal form of attention-constrained choice. We introduce tractable generalizations that allow for many of the known behavioral violations from this ideal, including asymmetries and complementarities in learning, context effects, and low responsiveness to incentives. We provide an even more general method of recovering attention costs from behavioral data. The data set in which we characterize all behavioral patterns is "state dependent" stochastic choice data.
January 2014Revealed Preference, Rational Inattention, and Costly Information Acquisition
with Andrew Caplin: w19876
We develop a revealed preference test for optimal acquisition of costly information. The test encompasses models of rational inattention, sequential signal processing, and search. We provide limits on the extent to which attention costs can be recovered from choice data. We experimentally elicit state dependent stochastic choice data of the form the tests require. In simple cases, tests confirm that subjects adjust their attention in response to incentives as the theory dictates.

Published: Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2015. "Revealed Preference, Rational Inattention, and Costly Information Acquisition," American Economic Review, vol 105(7), pages 2183-2203. citation courtesy of

August 2013Behavioral Implications of Rational Inattention with Shannon Entropy
with Andrew Caplin: w19318
The model of rational inattention with Shannon mutual information costs is increasingly ubiquitous. We introduce a new solution method that lays bare the general behavioral properties of this model and liberates development of alternative models. We experimentally test a key behavioral property characterizing the elasticity of choice mistakes with respect to attentional incentives. We find that subjects are less responsive to such changes than the model implies. We introduce generalized entropy cost functions that better match this feature of the data and that retain key simplifying features of the Shannon model.
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