Tiered Consent and the Tyranny of Choice

32 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2008 Last revised: 25 Jul 2013

See all articles by Natalie Ram

Natalie Ram

University of Maryland Carey School of Law

Date Written: 2008


Evidence in consumer psychology suggests that abundant choice causes decision makers to experience information overload, make arbitrary choices, refrain from choosing altogether, and experience regret following decision making. These patterns result in systematically lower quality decision making. The potential limitations of expanded choice are directly relevant to informed consent to human tissue research, where tiered consent is a best practice. Tiered consent presents potential tissue providers with a menu of research categories to which they may consent. Applying the results of research in consumer psychology to models for tiered consent, this Article describes how best to achieve the ethical paradigm of informed consent in view of the limitations of human mental processing.

Keywords: health law, behavioral economics, decision-making psychology, informed consent, human tissue research, human subjects research, biomedical research, bioethics

JEL Classification: D11, I1, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Ram, Natalie, Tiered Consent and the Tyranny of Choice (2008). Jurimetrics, Vol. 48, p. 253, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1112364

Natalie Ram (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

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