25 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021 Last revised: 8 Jul 2021
Date Written: January 16, 2021
This review draws on the notion of contract schemas to characterize what ordinary people think is happening when they enter into contractual arrangements. It proposes that contracts are schematically represented as written documents filled with impenetrable text containing hidden strings, which are routinely signed without comprehension. This cognitive template, activated whenever people encounter objects with these characteristic features, confers certain default assumptions, associations, and expectancies. A review of the literature suggests that contract schemas supply (a) the assumption that terms will be enforced as written, (b) the feeling that one is obligated to perform, and (c) the sense that one has forfeited rights. The picture that emerges from the psychology of contracts literature suggests that laypeople expect the law to find consent in situations where they would prefer it did not, and where it in fact does not.
Keywords: consent, schemas, contracts, psychology
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