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girls sitting on a lawn
Photo: Fredrick Suwandi on Unsplash

The project applies the study of attention norms to four closely connected areas of current societal concern.

  • Subproject 1: State policies for managing attention and their political legitimacy
  • Subproject 2: The ethics of attention framing, misdirection, nudging, and the commercialization of attention
  • Subproject 3: The role of attention and salience in solving collective action problems
  • Subproject 4: The role of attention norms and attention sharing in shaping digital communities online

Subproject 1: Attention Policies 

This subproject examines how state actors deliberately develop strategies to direct or divert public attention, particularly by using digital technology and social media. We investigate how such attention policies are implemented and how they can be used as political weapons both within the state and in international conflicts and competitions.  

Adverting screens in a town in Asia.
Photo: Fredrick Suwandi on Unsplash

Subproject 2: The Ethics of Nudging, Attention Manipulation, and the Commercialization of Attention

This subproject investigates the ethical implications of the deliberate shaping of attention by commercial and state actors through, for example, nudges, targeted online content, and the manipulation of information. It focuses on the intersection between state and commercial actors. We look at the moral permissibility of using nudges in policy making; the ethical implications of attention engineering by commercial actors; and the implications of attention manipulation for democracy.

A man looking at an automat for soft drinks.
Photo: Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

Subproject 3: Salience and attention in collective action

This subproject studies the role of attention and salience for the rationality of collective action. It addresses pressing societal problems that require solutions to collective action dilemmas. We focus on the rationality of how individual agents coordinate their actions with others to achieve a common goal, or cooperate with others, even at a cost to themselves. We examine how social attention norms may help us to solve coordination and cooperation problems, and the rational constraints on moving from what is salient to an individual to what is salient to a group.

Four boys jumping on a green field.
Photo: Robert Collins on Unsplash

Subproject 4: Social Attention in Digital Communities

This subproject investigates the role of attention norms and attention sharing in shaping social networks and digital communities online, and their political and psychological effects. It studies the role of attention for community formation and social fragmentation. We aim to understand the role of the online dynamics of attention or media consumption, social media bubbles, conspiracy theories, political fragmentation, and our ability to deal with global collective action problems such as the climate crisis.

People looking at mobile phones
Photo: Camilo jimenez on Unsplash


Published July 9, 2021 3:23 PM - Last modified July 1, 2022 1:07 PM