About the Talk

Professor Cass Sunstein spoke about the welfare effects of information, in a talk entitled “Not Wanting to Know”.

The synopsis of the talk was:

“In some cases, people do not want information, above all because it will have negative effects on their welfare. Some news is “bad news”; it will make people sad or scared. Other news has adverse effects on performance. With respect to information, people are also heterogeneous in their desires. The complex effects of information on human welfare have implications for choice and also for public policy; they suggest potential conflicts between deontological and utilitarian approaches to information disclosure. With reference to empirical studies in multiple nations, this seminar will explore the welfare effects of information.”

About the Speaker

Professor Cass Sunstein is a prominent legal scholar and currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School.

In 2018, he received the Holberg Prize from the government of Norway, sometimes described as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for law and the humanities. In 2020, the World Health Organization appointed him as Chair of its technical advisory group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and after that, he served on the President’s Review Board on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and on the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board. Prof. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has advised officials at the United Nations, the European Commission, the World Bank, and many nations on issues of law and public policy. He serves as an adviser to the Behavioural Insights Team in the United Kingdom.

He is best known for a wide range of contributions, especially in behavioural economics. He is the New York Times best-selling author of The World According to Star Wars (2016) and Nudge (2008).

He is currently advising the United States government as part of the Biden administration.

More information about his research and teaching is available: https://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/10871/Sunstein

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