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Empirical legal studies

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

2014

Consumer Protection Law

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A Psychological Account Of Consent To Fine Print, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan May 2014

A Psychological Account Of Consent To Fine Print, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan

All Faculty Scholarship

The moral and social norms that bear on contracts of adhesion suggest a deep ambivalence. Contracts are perceived as serious moral obligations, and yet they must be taken lightly or everyday commerce would be impossible. Most people see consent to boilerplate as less meaningful than consent to negotiated terms, but they nonetheless would hold consumers strictly liable for both. This Essay aims to unpack the beliefs, preferences, assumptions, and biases that constitute our assessments of assent to boilerplate. Research suggests that misgivings about procedural defects in consumer contracting weigh heavily on judgments of contract formation, but play almost no role …