Class Membership in Class Actions: An Experimental Study

35 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2010 Last revised: 3 Mar 2016

See all articles by Gijs van Dijck

Gijs van Dijck

Maastricht University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 16, 2010


Prior research suggests that class membership is higher in opt-out models than in opt-in models. One of the main concerns with an opt-out model is that it causes a tension with the principle of party autonomy (litigant autonomy). This study explores this tension as well as whether an opt out procedure can enhance party autonomy rather than limit it. In two experiments, it is tested whether the size of the class is impacted by the procedure (opt in/opt out) in combination with (1) the size of the loss and (2) knowledge of the settlement outcome when deciding to opt in or opt out. The results provide support for the idea that an opt-out model does not necessarily put restraints on individuals’ decision making and that it can even enhance party autonomy.

Keywords: Class Action, Opt In, Opt Out, Social Norms, Empirical, Experiment

JEL Classification: K4, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

van Dijck, Gijs, Class Membership in Class Actions: An Experimental Study (July 16, 2010). Tilburg University TISCO Working Paper No. 007/2010, 5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper, Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 013/2011, Available at SSRN:

Gijs Van Dijck (Contact Author)

Maastricht University - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200

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