Blind Consent? A Social Psychological Investigation of Non-Readership of Click-Through Agreements
59 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2011
Date Written: June 1, 2011
Across two studies we aimed to measure empirically the extent of non-readership of click-through agreements (CTAs), identify the dominant beliefs about CTAs contributing to non-readership, and experimentally manipulate these beliefs to decrease automatic non-reading behavior and enhance contract efficiency. In our initial questionnaire study (Study 1), as predicted, the vast majority of participants reported not reading CTAs and the most prevalent beliefs about CTAs contributing to non-readership included: they are too long and time-consuming, they are all the same, they give one no choice but to agree, they are unimportant, they are irrelevant, and vendors are generally reputable. Manipulating these beliefs on a simulated music web site (Study 2) revealed an increase in readership. Additionally, CTA comprehension and CTA rejection rates were both increased significantly by manipulating the length of the CTA. These results demonstrate support for the influence of widely-held beliefs about CTAs on contract readership, provide evidence against the common “limited cognition” perspective on non-readership, and suggest that presenting CTAs in a short, readable format can increase CTA readership and comprehension as well as shopping of CTA terms.
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