An Experimental Test of the Effectiveness of Terms & Conditions
Zev J. Eigen
Northwestern University School of Law
October 7, 2013
Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-32
Requiring individuals to consent to “terms & conditions” is the overwhelmingly dominant strategy used to try to curb unauthorized use of products like motion pictures and music. This study is the first to employ a randomized controlled behavioral experiment testing whether this strategy is as effective as other means of achieving this goal. Individuals randomly assigned to either a “terms and condition” (“T&C”) frame or alternative frames (promise-keeping, trust, threat, naked request, and a control) were presented an opportunity to take an online presidential election poll more than once (and receive additional remuneration each time they did), even though they were made aware that they were not authorized to do so. The T&C frame was the least effective at keeping subjects from taking the poll more than once. Asking individuals to promise not to behave in the undesirable way, or signaling trust that they would not behave in the undesirable way were the best frames for curbing unauthorized multiple poll-taking.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 46
Keywords: contract, form, adhesive, adhesion, internet, Hollywood, entertainment, end user, EULA, license agreement, experiment, cheating, dishonesty, poll, president, election, consumer, agreement
JEL Classification: K10, K12, K39
Date posted: October 11, 2013
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