Pub. Date:
Springer International Publishing
The Attention Deficit: Unintended Consequences of Digital Connectivity

The Attention Deficit: Unintended Consequences of Digital Connectivity

by Swati BhattSwati Bhatt


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Digital technology has enabled connectivity on an unimagined scale. Human beings are social animals and economic activity promotes this socialization. Market transactions are based on optimism about the future, faith that the world is good and trust that growth is organic or coming from within the system. Individuals therefore invest in the future by having children, by extending credit and accepting risk, and by building connections with others in the sincere expectation of this connectivity being reciprocated.

This book explores the unintended consequences of ubiquitous connectivity. The first effect is captured by the sharing model. Technology offers multiple avenues for sharing experiences and personal information, so active engagement with this increased content uses mental effort. Connection inevitably leads to comparisons with other groups and individuals, so despite the benefits of affirmation and group inclusion, these links corrode social networks, leading to depression and mental apathy. The second effect—the result of the commercialization of sharing—is encapsulated in the attention deficit model. Loss of self-worth, driven by the first effect, encourages further connectivity and sharing as buyers seek more comfort and reassurance via social media, paying with time and personal information. The product is digital content and the payment is with time and data. Correspondingly, social media fulfills this demand with exuberance, both via user-generated content and commercially curated content. We are overwhelmed with even more information, paying with increasingly scarce time and attention. Finally, the third and most consequential effect is diminished risk taking. Attention scarcity, as a consequence of the content tsunami, throttles cognitive effort, impairing judgment and decision-making. So the safe bet may be to do nothing . . . take no risks and no gambles.

Weaving together the latest research on economics, psychology, and neuroscience, this book fills a void for readers wanting a smart, clear analysis of communications markets and the commercialization of Internet-inspired connectivity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783030218478
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Publication date: 09/06/2019
Edition description: 1st ed. 2019
Pages: 190
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x (d)

About the Author

Swati Bhatt, who received her Ph.D. from Princeton in 1986, has been on Princeton’s Economics faculty since 1992, where she has taught courses on The Economics of the Internet, Microeconomics, Industrial Organization and Finance and has been Director of Student Programs at the Bendheim Center for Finance. Her research interests include the Economics of Digitization, Industrial Organization with a focus on the Technology Industry, and Finance. Her book How Digital Communication Technology Shapes Markets was published in January 2017 by Palgrave Macmillan. Bhatt also worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (1985-1990) and taught at New York University’s Stern School of Business (1990-92).

Table of Contents

• ​Connectivity, Attention and Risk
• Time: The Measure of Connectivity
• The Psychology of Connectivity: Follower Counts and Identity
• The Economics of Connectivity: Communication Markets
• Streaming Technology and the Entertainment Industry
• Content Tsunami
• Attention Deficit and Diminished Risk Taking
• Restoring Boldness and Reducing Apathy
• Conclusion: Dialogue, not Walls

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This book offers an important perspective on our modern society. By harness insights from psychology and economics, Bhatt teaches us about the causes and consequences of living in a society increasingly inundated by technology.” (Diana Tamir, Assistant Professor, Princeton University)

“This is a timely book on a pressing topic. Individually and collectively we face problems caused by the unintended consequences of digital connectivity, and Bhatt’s book brings helpful clarity to these issues.” (Matthew J. Salganik, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University)

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