Planned vs. Actual Attention

Ala Avoyan, Mauricio Ribeiro, Andrew Schotter, Elizabeth R. Schotter, Mehrdad Vaziri, Minghao Zou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    People often need to plan how to allocate their attention across different tasks. In this paper, we run two experiments to study a stylized version of this attention-allocation problem between strategic tasks. More specifically, we present subjects with pairs of 2 × 2 games, and for each pair, we give them 10 seconds to decide how they would split a fixed time budget between the two games. Then, subjects play both games without time constraints, and we use eye-tracking to estimate the fraction of time they spend on each game. We find that subjects’ planned and actual attention allocation differ and identify the determinants of this mismatch. Further, we argue that misallocations can be relevant in games in which a player’s strategy choice is sensitive to the time taken to reach a decision.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2912-2933
    Number of pages22
    JournalManagement Science
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - 2024


    • attention allocation
    • eye tracking
    • planned attention
    • time and choice

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Strategy and Management
    • Management Science and Operations Research


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