Blind Consent? A Social Psychological Investigation of Non-Readership of Click-Through Agreements

59 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2011  

Victoria Plaut

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Department of Psychology

Robert P. Bartlett III

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy

Date Written: June 1, 2011

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Plaut, Victoria and Bartlett, Robert P., Blind Consent? A Social Psychological Investigation of Non-Readership of Click-Through Agreements (June 1, 2011). Law and Human Behavior, June 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1916831

Victoria Plaut (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Psychology

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Robert P. Bartlett III

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-6646 (Phone)

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy

UC Berkeley School of Law
Berkeley, CA 94720

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