“Digital Addiction,” Hunt Allcott, Microsoft Research

Event time: 
Monday, September 20, 2021 - 11:40am through 12:55pm
Edward P. Evans Hall - School of Management (EVANS), Allison Foundation Classroom (2210)
165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Hunt Allcott, Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research
Event description: 


Abstract: Many have argued that digital technologies such as smartphones and social media are addictive. We develop an economic model of digital addiction and estimate it using a randomized experiment. Temporary incentives to reduce social media use have persistent effects, suggesting social media are habit forming. Allowing people to set limits on their future screen time substantially reduces use, suggesting self-control problems. Additional evidence suggests people are inattentive to habit formation and partially unaware of self-control problems. Looking at these facts through the lens of our model suggests that self-control problems cause 31 percent of social media use.

Hunt Allcott is an applied microeconomist who studies the intersection of behavioral economics and public economics: how people might not always act in their best interest, and how business and public policy can help or hurt. He is a Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a visiting instructor of economics at MIT (in 2021-2022), a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a co-editor of the Journal of Public Economics, and an affiliate of ideas42, Poverty Action Lab, and E2e. He holds a PhD from Harvard University and a BS and MS from Stanford University.

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Cosponsored by the Center for the Study of American Politics (CSAP) and the School of Management’s International Center for Finance and the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation.