Seeking and Shunning Publicity

Geoffrey Brennan and Philip Pettit

in The Economy of Esteem

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199246489
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601460 | DOI:
Seeking and Shunning Publicity

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Esteem-seekers can affect the esteem they desire not only by improving their performances but also by adjusting their audience size–seeking secrecy to avoid disesteem and seeking audience to magnify positive esteem. Such behaviour affects performance partly by affecting esteem incentives and partly by absorbing energy and effort that might otherwise have been put into performance enhancement. One effect of particular interest here is the case where esteem cannot operate because the actor is not given ‘recognition’. The search for recognition may involve a desire for publicity/attention for its own sake as well as for the esteem that publicity offers. A striking case in which attention-seeking and esteem-seeking come apart is in the ‘enfant terrible’ case where the actor performs deliberately badly (and receives disesteem) in order to get greater attention. We offer an explanation for this case in terms of long-term esteem-seeking.

Keywords: attention-seeking; enfant terrible; recognition; secrecy

Chapter.  6920 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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