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Blind consent? A sociocultural analysis of nonreadership of online legal agreements
Law and Human Behavior (2011)
  • Victoria Plaut, Berkeley Law
  • Robert P Bartlett, Berkeley Law

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 nonreadership included: they are too long and time-consuming, they are all the same, they give one no choice but to agree, they are irrelevant, and vendors are generally reputable. Manipulating these beliefs on a simulated music website (Study 2) revealed an increase in readership. In addition, 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 read-ership and comprehension as well as shopping of CTA terms.

Publication Date
June, 2011
Citation Information
Victoria Plaut and Robert P Bartlett. "Blind consent? A sociocultural analysis of nonreadership of online legal agreements" Law and Human Behavior (2011)
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