The Competition for Attention

Friday February 18 – 7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church Social Hall

Speaker: Warren Thorngate

Topic: The Competition for Attention

Click here to view the slides from this lecture.


Attention is the stuff we “pay,” like the time we “spend,” to convert information into knowledge and knowledge into information. Attention, however, does not expand to accommodate the information available; it is a finite and nonrenewable resource. The amount of information in the world now doubles about once per decade; there is about twice as much information available today as there was in the year 2,000. So as time goes by we must be increasingly selective in what we pay attention to. How do we make our selections? What criteria do we use to choose what to attend to and what to ignore? How are these criteria shifting? And what are the consequences of the shifts? The lecture will examine the economics of attention, the competition for attention, and how it will shape the future of information production and consumption.

Speaker’s Profile:

Warren Thorngate is a freshly retired professor of social psychology and decision making at Carleton University. He has served as a visiting professor in Australia, Chile, Poland, Russia, England, the United States, and Iran. Warren’s research on the social psychology of contests and competitions lead to his recent book, Judging Merit (with Margaret Foddy and the late Robyn Dawes). His research on the economy of attention and the marketplace of ideas lead to a course called Psychology and Journalism (taught with Susan Harada) and to this Almonte lecture. Warren and Barbara Carroll have been residents of Almonte for six years.

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