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Don't Blame Us: How Our Attributional Proclivities Influence the Relationship Between Americans, Business, and Government

Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal, Vol. 5, 2010

Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law Research Paper No. 2010-A-22

53 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2010 Last revised: 6 Dec 2010

Adam Benforado

Drexel University Kline School of Law

Date Written: November 8, 2010

Abstract

In the wake of the worst economic crisis in the United States since the Great Depression, there has been a drive to reconfigure the regulatory state and renegotiate the relationship between Americans, business, and government. This Article argues that the ultimate formulation of that relationship turns, to a significant degree, on our basic attributional tendencies, particularly where we look to assign causal responsibility when things go wrong. The Article begins by summarizing evidence from the mind sciences concerning our basic attributional framework, before investigating its value to business as a ready means to (1) manipulate our environments to encourage profitable consumer behavior and (2) avoid regulation and liability. As a case study of the ways in which corporations play on our basic attributional proclivities to manage negative outcomes, the Article focuses on the recent battle over the creation of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

Keywords: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, CFPA, financial crisis, credit cards, law and mind sciences, attributions, critical realism, situationism, regulation, paternalism

Suggested Citation

Benforado, Adam, Don't Blame Us: How Our Attributional Proclivities Influence the Relationship Between Americans, Business, and Government (November 8, 2010). Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal, Vol. 5, 2010; Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law Research Paper No. 2010-A-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1704963

Adam Benforado (Contact Author)

Drexel University Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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