Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version




Antimicrobial Resistance: The Role of Food and Agriculture or Nature White Noise -- which would you rather watch?

A recent study by researchers in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln gave participants that choice. Nearly 40 percent of respondents avoided learning about antimicrobial resistance and chose the white noise video. The goal of the study was to shed light on the role that certain individual characteristics, such as knowledge, perceptions and attitudes, play on information avoidance behavior. In the study, information avoidance behavior is examined in the context of antimicrobial resistance.

The standard view in economics is that information is valuable to people because it improves decisionmaking. Therefore, rational individuals will not avoid valid information, except in situations in which ignorance is strategically beneficial. The importance of information in shaping consumer perceptions and attitudes and influencing purchasing decisions is well documented in many studies. In many situations, consumers value and seek out information, and studies show that they are even willing to pay for information that will not affect their decisions (Eliaz and Schotter 2007). While economic analysis of information generally considers information as a means to an end, a growing literature in economics, psychology and neuroscience identifies situations in which people avoid information even when information is free and could improve decision- making (Golman et al. 2017).