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Attention Poverty

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Some people get more human attention than others. This means that some people get less than the average amount of attention. One could define attention poverty as the state of a person who is below a certain percentile of the amount of attention that people statistically get. In simpler words: If someone gets very little attention from other people that person is “attention poor”. Of course, this form of poverty of receiving attention needs to be distinguished from poor ability to control one’s attention (see ADHD).

There are a couple of questions and observations about attention poverty that may be of interest:

  1. What are the causes of attention poverty?
  • What are the psychological consequences of attention poverty?
  • What are the economic consequences of attention poverty?
  • How is attention poverty related to material / monetary poverty?
  • How is attention poverty or attention wealth related to happiness and subjective well-being?
  • Would a society more equal in the distribution of attention be preferable?
  • Do some people require less attention than others? If so, what does the need for attention depend upon?
  • Is attention poverty really a problem for all who are defined as “attention poor”?
  • Attention poverty is an issue that does not seem to be solved by universal basic income
  • Neither is it solved by a reputation economy – in fact it could become exacerbated in such an economy – or is the opposite the case?
  • Even in a state of material and digital superabundance, attention poverty would still be an issue
  • Work places may alleviate attention poverty by the attention one gets from co-workers
  • Are communities that are not related to work better suited for alleviating attention poverty?
  • Does an overabundance of attention cause any problems?
  • How much can a lack of human attention be alleviated by attention from non-human animals or (future) artificial intelligences?
  • How much does the quality of attention matter? How would one even measure that quality?


maybe there are different kinds of attention poverty. i think about old people who suffer because they lack attention from their family and feel lonely because they don´t have colleagues anymore, maybe some of their friends are already dead. given the oppurtunity to talk, that means : if even a stranger gives them attention ! they feel the longing to tell their whole life story.
in a way they might be different from people, who lack attention for their work. many geniuses in human history that gained posthumous fame suffered from attention poverty in their life. i think we should distinguish personal attention poverty from performance attention poverty.

here you have a really disturbing point. in my opinion technology should free people from work for a better future…but the flipside of that progress is to suffer from attention poverty!

maybe we should analyze the core of loneliness first. i think it is possible to give people the illusion of attention and not being lonely concerning the case of personal attention poverty. to watch tv or to read a book could alleviate the suffering although those people are in fact lonely while enjoying the input of a book or a show and get no attention from anyone at all!

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