Disclosure to a Credulous Audience: The Role of Limited Attention

David Hirshleifer, Sonya S. Lim, and Siew Hong Teoh

October 2002


We model limited attention as incomplete usage of publicly available information. Informed
players decide whether or not to disclose to observers who sometimes neglect either disclosed signals or the implications of non-disclosure. These observers may choose ex ante how to allocate their limited attention. In equilibrium observers are unrealistically optimistic, disclosure is incomplete, neglect of disclosed signals increases disclosure, and neglect of a failure to disclose reduces disclosure. Regulation requiring greater disclosure can reduce observers’ belief accuracies and welfare. Disclosure in one arena affects perceptions in fundamentally unrelated arenas, owing to cue competition, salience, and analytical interference. Disclosure in one arena can crowd out disclosure in another.

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