2016-goldberg.pdf: “What Does It Mean to Span Cultural Boundaries? Variety and Atypicality in Cultural
Consumption”, (Amir Goldberg, Michael T. Hannan, Balázs Kovács):
We propose a synthesis of two lines of sociological research on boundary spanning in cultural production and
consumption. One, research on cultural omnivorousness, analyzes choice by heterogeneous audiences facing an array of crisp
cultural offerings. The other, research on categories in markets, analyzes reactions by homogeneous audiences to objects
that vary in the degree to which they conform to categorical codes. We develop a model of heterogeneous audiences
evaluating objects that vary in typicality. This allows consideration of orientations on two dimensions of cultural
preference: variety and typicality. We propose a novel analytic framework to map consumption behavior in these two
dimensions. We argue that one audience type, those who value variety and typicality, are especially resistant to objects
that span boundaries. We test this argument in an analysis of two large-scale datasets of reviews of films and
2021-rocklage.pdf: “Emotionally Numb: Expertise Dulls Consumer Experience”, (2021-03-15; ;
Expertise provides numerous benefits. Experts process information more efficiently, remember information better, and
often make better decisions. Consumers pursue expertise in domains they love and chase experiences that make them feel
something. Yet, might becoming an expert carry a cost for these very feelings? Across more than 700,000 consumers and 6
million observations, developing expertise in a hedonic domain predicts consumers becoming more emotionally numb—that is,
having less intense emotion in response to their experiences. This numbness occurs across a range of domains—movies,
photography, wine, and beer—and across diverse measures of emotion and expertise. It occurs in cross-sectional real-world
data with certified experts, and in longitudinal real-world data that follows consumers over time and traces their
emotional trajectories as they accrue expertise. Furthermore, this numbness can be explained by the cognitive structure
experts develop and apply within a domain. Experimentally inducing cognitive structure led novice consumers to experience
greater numbness. However, shifting experts away from using their cognitive structure restored their experience of emotion.
Thus, although consumers actively pursue expertise in domains that bring them pleasure, the present work is the first to
show that this pursuit can come with a hedonic cost.
Curious Case of Neural Text Degeneration”, (2019-04-22; ):
Despite considerable advancements with deep neural language models, the enigma of neural text degeneration persists when
these models are tested as text generators. The counter-intuitive empirical observation is that even though the use of
likelihood as training objective leads to high quality models for a broad range of language understanding tasks, using
likelihood as a decoding objective leads to text that is bland and strangely repetitive.
In this paper, we reveal surprising distributional differences between human text and machine text. In addition, we find
that decoding strategies alone can dramatically effect the quality of machine text, even when generated from exactly the
same neural language model. Our findings motivate Nucleus Sampling, a simple but effective method to draw the best out of
neural generation. By sampling text from the dynamic nucleus of the probability distribution, which allows for diversity
while effectively truncating the less reliable tail of the distribution, the resulting text better demonstrates the quality
of human text, yielding enhanced diversity without sacrificing fluency and coherence.
“Accelerating dynamics of collective attention”, (2019-04-15;
With news pushed to smart phones in real time and social media reactions spreading across the globe in seconds, the
public discussion can appear accelerated and temporally fragmented. In longitudinal datasets across various domains,
covering multiple decades, we find increasing gradients and shortened periods in the trajectories of how cultural items
receive collective attention. Is this the inevitable conclusion of the way information is disseminated and consumed? Our
findings support this hypothesis. Using a simple mathematical model of topics competing for finite collective attention, we
are able to explain the empirical data remarkably well. Our modeling suggests that the accelerating ups and downs of
popular content are driven by increasing production and consumption of content, resulting in a more rapid exhaustion of
limited attention resources. In the interplay with competition for novelty, this causes growing turnover rates and
individual topics receiving shorter intervals of collective attention.
“Fashion and art cycles are driven by counter-dominance signals of elite
competition: quantitative evidence from music styles”, (2019-02-06; ; backlinks):
Human symbol systems such as art and fashion styles emerge from complex social processes that govern the continuous
re-organization of modern societies. They provide a signalling scheme that allows members of an elite to distinguish
themselves from the rest of society.
Efforts to understand the dynamics of art and fashion cycles have been placed on ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ theories.
According to ‘top-down’ theories, elite members signal their superior status by introducing new symbols (eg. fashion
styles), which are adopted by low-status groups. In response to this adoption, elite members would need to introduce new
symbols to signal their status. According to many ‘bottom-up’ theories, style cycles evolve from lower classes and follow
an essentially random pattern. We propose an alternative explanation based on counter-dominance signalling
(CDS). In CDS, elite members want others to
imitate their symbols; changes only occur when outsider groups successfully challenge the elite by introducing signals that
contrast those endorsed by the elite.
We investigate these mechanisms using a dynamic network approach on data containing almost 8 million music albums
released between 1956 and 2015. The network systematically quantifies artistic similarities of competing musical styles and
their changes over time. We formulate empirical tests for whether new symbols are introduced by current elite members
(top-down), randomness (bottom-up) or by peripheral groups through counter-dominance signals. We find clear evidence that
CDS drives changes in musical styles.
This provides a quantitative, completely data-driven answer to a century-old debate about the nature of the underlying
social dynamics of fashion cycles.
[Keywords: cultural evolution, network analysis, evolutionary dynamics, fashion cycle theory]
“Predictability and Uncertainty in the Pleasure of Music: A Reward for
Music ranks among the greatest human pleasures. It consistently engages the reward system, and converging evidence
implies it exploits predictions to do so. Both prediction confirmations and errors are essential for understanding one’s
environment, and music offers many of each as it manipulates interacting patterns across multiple timescales. Learning
models suggest that a balance of these outcomes (i.e., intermediate complexity) optimizes the reduction of uncertainty to
rewarding and pleasurable effect. Yet evidence of a similar pattern in music is mixed, hampered by arbitrary measures of
complexity. In the present studies, we applied a well-validated information-theoretic model of auditory expectation to
systematically measure two key aspects of musical complexity: predictability (operationalized as information content [IC]),
and uncertainty (entropy). In Study 1, we evaluated how these properties affect musical
preferences in 43 male and female participants; in Study 2, we replicated Study 1 in an independent sample of 27
people and assessed the contribution of veridical predictability by presenting the same stimuli seven times. Both studies
revealed significant quadratic effects of IC and entropy on liking that outperformed linear effects, indicating reliable
preferences for music of intermediate complexity. An interaction between IC and entropy further suggested preferences for more predictability during more uncertain contexts,
which would facilitate uncertainty reduction. Repeating stimuli decreased liking ratings but did not disrupt the preference
for intermediate complexity. Together, these findings support long-hypothesized optimal zones of predictability and
uncertainty in musical pleasure with formal modeling, relating the pleasure of music listening to the intrinsic
reward of learning.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT
Abstract pleasures, such as music, claim much of our time, energy, and money despite lacking any clear adaptive
benefits like food or shelter. Yet as music manipulates patterns of melody, rhythm, and more, it proficiently exploits our
expectations. Given the importance of anticipating and adapting to our ever-changing environments, making and evaluating
uncertain predictions can have strong emotional effects. Accordingly, we present evidence that listeners consistently
prefer music of intermediate predictive complexity, and that preferences shift toward expected musical outcomes in more
uncertain contexts. These results are consistent with theories that emphasize the intrinsic reward of learning, both by
updating inaccurate predictions and validating accurate ones, which is optimal in environments that present manageable
predictive challenges (i.e., reducible uncertainty).
Adversarial Networks, Generating "Art" by Learning About Styles and Deviating from Style Norms”, (2017-06-21;
We propose a new system for generating art. The system generates art by looking at art and learning about style; and
becomes creative by increasing the arousal potential of the generated art by deviating from the learned styles. We build
over Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), which have shown the ability to learn
to generate novel images simulating a given distribution. We argue that such networks are limited in their ability to
generate creative products in their original design. We propose modifications to its objective to make it capable of
generating creative art by maximizing deviation from established styles and minimizing deviation from art distribution. We
conducted experiments to compare the response of human subjects to the generated art with their response to art created by
artists. The results show that human subjects could not distinguish art generated by the proposed system from art generated
by contemporary artists and shown in top art fairs. Human subjects even rated the generated images higher on various
2016-zuckerman.pdf: “Optimal Distinctiveness Revisited: an integrative framework for understanding the balance between
differentiation and conformity in individual and organizational identities”,
This chapter integrates 3 approaches to the question of why successful identities—individual and
organizational—generally involve a balance between conformity to others’ practices and differentiation from them.
An entertaining model is employed to highlight the limitations of the “optimal distinctiveness” and the “different
A third approach—“two-stage valuation”—is then shown to address these limitations. It is also demonstrated that this
approach provides a general foundation for understanding the balance between conformity and differentiation. The advantages
of this framework are (a) parsimony, as it requires no unnecessary behavioral assumptions; (b) generality, as it applies at
both the individual and organizational levels of analysis and is capable of incorporating the distinctive observations of
the other 2 approaches; and (d) extensibility, as it is capable of illuminating outstanding puzzles, such as why closely
resembling others may sometimes convey legitimacy but may sometimes be a problematic sign of inauthenticity.
[Keywords: conformity, differentiation, valuation, identity, audience]
2015-gupta.pdf: “Anthony Downs, “Up and Down with Ecology: The
‘Issue-Attention’ Cycle””, (2015;
This chapter comments on Anthony Downs’s 1972 seminal paper “Up and Down with Ecology: The ‘Issue-Attention’ Cycle”,
which tackles the concept of “public” or “issue” attention. Focusing on domestic policy, particularly environmental policy
in the United States, Downs describes a process called “issue-attention cycle”, by which the public gains and loses
interest in a particular issue over time. This chapter summarizes studies that directly put Downs’s propositions to the
test, laying emphasis on research that probes the existence of and interrelationships among the public attention cycle,
media attention cycle, and government attention cycle. It then reviews the main arguments put forward by Downs before
concluding with a discussion of promising avenues for future research as well as important theoretical and methodological
questions that need further elucidation.
“The hipster effect:
When anticonformists all look the same”, (2014-10-29; ; backlinks):
In such different domains as neuroscience, spin glasses, social science, economics and finance, large ensemble of
interacting individuals following (mainstream) or opposing (hipsters) to the majority are ubiquitous. In these systems,
interactions generally occur after specific delays associated to transport, transmission or integration of information. We
investigate here the impact of anti-conformism combined to delays in the emergent dynamics of large populations of
mainstreams and hipsters. To this purpose, we introduce a class of simple statistical systems of interacting agents
composed of (i) mainstreams and anti-conformists in the presence of (ii) delays, possibly heterogeneous, in the
transmission of information. In this simple model, each agent can be in one of two states, and can change state in
continuous time with a rate depending on the state of others in the past. We express the thermodynamic limit of these
systems as the number of agents diverge, and investigate the solutions of the limit equation, with a particular focus on
synchronized oscillations induced by delayed interactions. We show that when hipsters are too slow in detecting the trends,
they will consistently make the same choice, and realizing this too late, they will switch, all together to another state
where they remain alike. Similar synchronizations arise when the impact of mainstreams on hipsters choices (and
reciprocally) dominate the impact of other hipsters choices, and we show that these may emerge only when the randomness in
the hipsters decisions is sufficiently large. Beyond the choice of the best suit to wear this winter, this study may have
important implications in understanding synchronization of nerve cells, investment strategies in finance, or emergent
dynamics in social science, domains in which delays of communication and the geometry of information accessibility are
2013-uzzi.pdf: “Atypical Combinations and Scientific Impact”, (2013-10-25):
Novelty is an essential feature of creative ideas, yet the building blocks of new ideas are often embodied in existing
knowledge. From this perspective, balancing atypical knowledge with conventional knowledge may be critical to the link
between innovativeness and impact.
Our analysis of 17.9 million papers spanning all scientific fields suggests that science follows a nearly universal
The highest-impact science is primarily grounded in exceptionally conventional combinations of prior work yet
simultaneously features an intrusion of unusual combinations. Papers of this type were twice as likely to be highly cited
works. Novel combinations of prior work are rare, yet teams are 37.7% more likely than solo authors to insert novel
combinations into familiar knowledge domains.
Making an Impact: How big a role do unconventional combinations of existing knowledge play in the
impact of a scientific paper? To examine this question, Uzzi et al 2013 (p. 468) studied 17.9 million
research articles across 5 decades of the Web of
Science, the largest repository of scientific research. Scientific work typically appeared to draw on highly
conventional, familiar mixtures of knowledge. The highest-impact papers were not the ones that had the greatest novelty,
but had a combination of novelty and otherwise conventional combinations of prior work.
2012-chan.pdf: “Identifiable but Not Identical: Combining Social Identity and Uniqueness Motives in
How do consumers reconcile conflicting motives for social group identification and individual uniqueness?
Four studies demonstrate that consumers simultaneously pursue assimilation and differentiation goals on different
dimensions of a single choice: they assimilate to their group on one dimension (by conforming on identity-signaling
attributes such as brand) while differentiating on another dimension (distinguishing themselves on uniqueness attributes
such as color). Desires to communicate social identity lead consumers to conform on choice dimensions that are strongly
associated with their group, particularly in identity-relevant consumer categories such as clothing. Higher needs for
uniqueness lead consumers to differentiate within groups by choosing less popular options among those that are associated
with their group.
By examining both between-group and within-group levels of comparison and using multidimensional decisions, this
research provides insight into how multiple identity motives jointly influence consumer choice.
“The Logic of Fashion Cycles”, (2012-01-27; ;
Many cultural traits exhibit volatile dynamics, commonly dubbed fashions or fads. Here we show that realistic
fashion-like dynamics emerge spontaneously if individuals can copy others’ preferences for cultural traits as well as
traits themselves. We demonstrate this dynamics in simple mathematical models of the diffusion, and subsequent abandonment,
of a single cultural trait which individuals may or may not prefer. We then simulate the coevolution between many cultural
traits and the associated preferences, reproducing power-law frequency distributions of cultural traits (most traits are
adopted by few individuals for a short time, and very few by many for a long time), as well as correlations between the
rate of increase and the rate of decrease of traits (traits that increase rapidly in popularity are also abandoned quickly
and vice versa). We also establish that alternative theories, that fashions result from individuals signaling their social
status, or from individuals randomly copying each other, do not satisfactorily reproduce these empirical observations.
“Dear Young Eccentric”, (2012-01-05):
Weird folks are often tempted to give up on grand ambitions, thinking there is little chance the world will let them
succeed. Turns out, however, it isn’t as bad as all that. Especially if your main weirdness is in the realm of ideas…I’ve
known some very successful people with quite weird ideas. But these folks mostly keep regular schedules of sleep and
bathing. Their dress and hairstyles are modest, they show up on time for meetings, and they finish assignments by deadline.
They are willing to pay dues and work on what others think are important for a while, and they have many odd ideas they’d
pursue if given a chance, instead of just one overwhelming obsession. They are willing to keep changing fields, careers,
and jobs until they find one that works for them…if you are not overtly rebellious, you can get away with a lot of abstract
idea rebellion—few folks will even notice such deviations, and fewer still will care. So, ask yourself, do you want to
look like a rebel, or do you want to be a rebel?
2006-hsu.pdf: “Jacks of All Trades and Masters of None: Audiences' Reactions to Spanning
Genres in Feature Film Production”, (2006-09-01;
Through analyses of audience reception of U.S.-produced feature film projects from the period 2000–2003, I develop
insight into the trade-off assumed in organizational ecology theory between an organization’s niche width and its
This assumption, termed the principle of allocation, holds that the greater the diversity in regions of
resource space targeted by an organization, the lower the organization’s capacity to perform well within them.
Using data at both the professional critic and consumer levels, I demonstrate the empirical validity of this principle:
films targeting more genres attract larger audiences but are less appealing to those audience members. Moreover, I find
that audiences’ perceptions of a film’s fit with targeted genres drive this trade-off, as multi-genre films are difficult
for audiences to make sense of, leading to poor fit with tastes and lowered appeal.
These findings highlight the key role audiences’ perceptions play in the trade-offs associated with different niche
2001-lounsbury.pdf: “Cultural entrepreneurship: stories, legitimacy, and the acquisition of
We define ‘cultural entrepreneurship’ as the process of storytelling that mediates between extant stocks of
entrepreneurial resources and subsequent capital acquisition and wealth creation.
We propose a framework that focuses on how entrepreneurial stories facilitate the crafting of a new venture identity
that serves as a touchstone upon which legitimacy may be conferred by investors, competitors, and consumers, opening up
access to new capital and market opportunities. Stories help create competitive advantage for entrepreneurs through focal
content shaped by 2 key forms of entrepreneurial capital: firm-specific resource capital and industry-level institutional
We illustrate our ideas with anecdotal entrepreneurial stories that range from contemporary high-technology accounts to
the evolution of the mutual fund industry.
Propositions are offered to guide future empirical research based on our framework. Theoretically, we aim to extend
recent efforts to synthesize strategic and institutional perspectives by incorporating insights from contemporary
approaches to culture and organizational identity.
1995-hargreaves.pdf: “Subjective complexity,
familiarity, and liking for popular music”, (1995):
The optimal complexity and preference-feedback hypotheses make specific predictions about the effects of stimulus
familiarity and subjective complexity on liking for music excerpts.
This study investigated the relationships between each of these 3 variables within the same experimental design. 75
undergraduates rated 60 excerpts of contemporary popular music for liking, subjective complexity, or familiarity.
Results: strongly supported the predictions of the 2 models, indicating a positive relationship between
liking and familiarity, and an inverted-U relationship between liking and subjective complexity.
The observed relationship between familiarity and subjective complexity was more difficult to predict and explain,
although there was some evidence that this relationship might best be described as an inverted-U function. The different
relationships of these 2 variables with liking are explained in terms of subjective complexity being related to objective
properties of the stimuli, and familiarity being determined by cultural exposure and subjects’ own volition.
1991-brewer.pdf: “The Social Self: On Being the Same and Different at the Same Time”,
Most of social psychology’s theories of the self fail to take into account the importance of social identification in
the definition of self. Social identities are self-definitions that are more inclusive than the individuated self-concept
of most American psychology.
A model of optimal distinctiveness is proposed in which social identity is viewed as a reconciliation of opposing needs
for assimilation and differentiation from others. According to this model, individuals avoid self-construals that are
either too personalized or too inclusive and instead define themselves in terms of distinctive category memberships. Social
identity and group loyalty are hypothesized to be strongest for those self-categorizations that simultaneously provide for
a sense of belonging and a sense of distinctiveness.
Results: from an initial laboratory experiment support the prediction that depersonalization and group
size interact as determinants of the strength of social identification.
1987-hargreaves.pdf: “Development of Liking for
Familiar and Unfamiliar Melodies”, (1987):
Subjects aged 4–5 yrs, 6–7 yrs, 8–9 yrs, 10–11 yrs, 13–14 yrs, and 18 yrs or older (n = 16 per group) were
asked to rate 5 tone sequences in each of 4 categories: familiar or unfamiliar melodies and near or far approximations to
Data show that familiar melodies were best liked, followed by unfamiliar melodies, near approximations, and far
approximations. There was an overall decline in liking for the stimuli with age.
…In summary, liking ratings for familiar and unfamiliar real-life melodies were obtained which were consistent with the
hypothesized inverted-U relationship between liking and familiarity, with age representing the latter. The results were
consistent with the hypothesis that the peak of the inverted U would occur at a later age for unfamiliar than for familiar
melodies. The pattern of ratings obtained for the statistical approximations to music was also consistent with the
inverted-U hypothesis: liking was an inverse function of age for these stimuli, and it was argued that this was because the
extent to which they appeared unfamiliar when compared with the other melodies increased with age. No difference was found
between ratings given to the 2 types of statistical approximation to music. In general terms, these results provide further
support for the “optimum complexity” model of musical preference.
1984-hargreaves.pdf: “The Effects of Repetition on Liking for
An inverted-U theory of the relationship between the subjective complexity of and liking for different musical pieces
was developed. The theory was then used to derive some predictions about the effects of repetition on liking for pieces of
music of different styles chosen to represent contrasting levels of objective complexity. These predictions were tested in
two experiments. The first experiment was a short time-scale study in which two pieces (“easy-listening” music and
avant-garde jazz) were played to subjects three times during a single session. The second experiment involved repetition
over 3 weekly sessions, as well as four times within sessions, of three pieces (popular, classical, and avant-garde jazz).
The results of both experiments were interpreted as broadly supporting the inverted-U model although there were some
surprising exceptions. These exceptions occurred when functions relating familiarity and liking were compared between
musical styles, and they were tentatively explained in terms of attitudinal stereotyping.
1983-sluckin.pdf: “Novelty and human aesthetic preferences”, (1983; ; backlinks):
Much of the so-called new experimental aesthetics is concerned with liking as a function of novelty/familiarity.
The mere-exposure hypothesis, suggesting that liking is the result of ‘mere repeated exposure’ of the individual to the
stimulus, is critically discussed.
The view is then considered that, more generally, the relationship between novelty/familiarity and liking takes the
form of an inverted U. Theories purporting to explain this relationship are then briefly described. Next, our own
experiments on letters, words and surnames, which show results consistent with the inverted-U function are reported.
However, for a certain category of stimuli, where the preference-feedback effect is in evidence, the relationship
between novelty/familiarity and liking is more like a positive rectilinear one. This is well illustrated by our findings
concerning preferences for Christian names.
This brings us to the topic of vogues. A survey of studies of aesthetic appreciation of music highlights, among other
features, the presence of cycles of fashion of varying periodicities.
The chapter ends up with some tentative general conclusions about aesthetic preferences in relation to novelty.
1982-sluckin.pdf: “Some experimental studies of familiarity and liking”, (1982):
The authors discuss special features of their studies of human likes and dislikes, summarize previous findings, and
outline new perspectives in experimental aesthetics.
Previous research has emphasized the relationship between the familiarity of objects and people’s liking for them. A
design feature that distinguishes the author’s work from other studies is the use of subjective, rather than objective,
measures of familiarity.
Studies reviewed include those concerning letters, syllables, and words; names and preference feedback; and appreciation
1980-sluckin.pdf: “Liking words as a function of the experienced frequency
of their occurrence”, (1980-02):
A hypothetical inverted-U curve is postulated linking liking of stimuli to familiarity with them.
An experiment using a special procedure was carried out in which the relationship was investigated for words, ranging
from very unfamiliar to very familiar, between favorability and familiarity.
The results conformed to the theoretical curve.
This indicated that the positive correlation between the variables reported by several researchers (e.g. Zajonc)
and the negative correlation found by others (e.g. Cantor) should be regarded as complementary rather than
…When the stimulus words were roughly split into 2 groups, the relatively unfamiliar and the relatively familiar, liking
was found to be positively related to familiarity in the former case (as in Zajonc-type studies) and negatively related to
familiarity in the latter case (as in Cantor-type studies). The function that properly fitted the familiarity-favorability
relationship over the full range of the familiarity variable was found to be curvilinear, first rising and then falling.
Thus the result contained both the Zajonc-type and the Cantor-type effects, showing them to be complementary
rather than contradictory. We undoubtedly achieved this by using a very wide spread of the independent variable; and this
was made possible by the particular experimental procedure adopted.
1980-colman.pdf: “Psychological Factors Affecting Preferences for First Names”,
Anecdotal and anthropological evidence suggests that personal names are of considerable psychological importance, but
they have not received much attention from psychologists. The relationship between the familiarity of first names and the
degree to which they are liked is of particular interest from the point of view of research in related areas of
Evidence from investigations carried out in England and Australia suggests that there is a strong tendency for first
names to be liked in direct proportion to their familiarity: in general, the most familiar names tend to be best liked and
the least familiar names to be most strongly disliked.
These findings are discussed in relation to previous research into familiarity and liking for letters of the alphabet
and words, and a hypothesis is developed which may account for the cyclical vogues in first names and certain other
1972-downs.pdf: “Up and down with ecology—the 'issue-attention cycle'”,
(1972-01-01; ; backlinks):
American public attention rarely remains sharply focused upon any one domestic issue for very long—even if it involves a
continuing problem of crucial importance to society. Instead, a systematic “issue-attention cycle” seems strongly to
influence public attitudes and behavior concerning most key domestic problems. Each of these problems suddenly leaps into
prominence, remains there for a short time, and then—though still largely unresolved—gradually fades from the center of
public attention. A study of the way this cycle operates provides insights into how long public attention is likely to
remain sufficiently focused upon any given issue to generate enough political pressure to cause effective change.
The shaping of American attitudes toward improving the quality of our environment provides both an example and a
potential test of this “issue-attention cycle.” In the past few years, there has been a remarkably widespread upsurge of
interest in the quality of our environment. This change in public attitudes has been much faster than any changes in the
environment itself. What has caused this shift in public attention? Why did this issue suddenly assume so high a priority
among our domestic concerns? And how long will the American public sustain high-intensity interest in ecological matters? I
believe that answers to these questions analyzing the “issue-attention cycle.”
The dynamics of the “issue-attention cycle”
Public perception of most “crises” in American domestic life does not reflect changes in real conditions as much as it
reflects the operation of a systematic cycle of heightening public interest and then increasing boredom with major issues.
This “issue-attention cycle” is rooted both in the nature of certain domestic problems and in the way major communications
media interact with the public. The cycle itself has five stages, which may vary in duration depending upon the particular
issue involved, but which almost always occur in the following sequence:
- The pre-problem stage…
- Alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm…
- Realizing the cost of substantial progress…
- Gradual decline of intense public interest…
- The post-problem stage…