Cultural Cognition of Patents

IP Theory, Vol. 4, p. 28, 2014

10 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013 Last revised: 10 Sep 2014

Date Written: September 29, 2013


Simply making empirical progress is not always enough to influence policy, as demonstrated by the polarized public discourse over issues ranging from climate change to gun control. The current discourse over patents appears to have a similar pathology, in which cultural values — such as respect for strong property rights or concern about limiting access to knowledge — shape priors and affect the weight given to new information, such that advocates and policymakers on both sides of the patent wars often fail to acknowledge the ambiguity of existing evidence. In this Essay, I suggest that the “cultural cognition” framework might help scholars to understand this value-based division and to study ways to design and communicate patent experiments so that the resulting knowledge has the impact it should.

Keywords: cultural cognition, motivated reasoning, decision science, science communication, patents, intellectual property

JEL Classification: H41, K00, O34

Suggested Citation

Ouellette, Lisa Larrimore, Cultural Cognition of Patents (September 29, 2013). IP Theory, Vol. 4, p. 28, 2014, Available at SSRN:

Lisa Larrimore Ouellette (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305
United States


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