Opportunity costs

A new article on CNN today sheds light on a phenomenon that’s been around for a few years now: TiVo Guilt. People program their DVRs to record entire seasons of television shows or shows they they believe they should watch, like Sunday morning news programs. Eventually, they wind up with a DVR full of unwatched shows and a bit of a neurosis about deleting them.

Brad Barens with iMedia Communications tells CNN this guilt is caused by what economists call “opportunity costs.” People are presented with so many options for relaxation that suddenly choosing and managing their recreation becomes more like work.

“With infinite media, you have infinite choices, and therefore you can have infinite opportunity costs,” Berens said. “Your satisfaction index of the thing you actually choose can never be equivalent to the infinite opportunity costs, so we’re in this position of being behind the cognitive eight-ball all the time.”

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