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The average consumer, the unfair commercial practices directive, and the cognitive revolution

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  • Rossella Incardona

    ()

  • Cristina Poncibò

    ()

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    Abstract

    This article examines the merit of the test of the average consumer as a basis for judicial and regulatory action. In the first part, we describe the origin of the test, its application in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and its possible developments. In the second part, we discuss the theoretical grounds of the average consumer test (i.e., information and rationality), drawing upon the studies of cognitive psychology and behavioural economics concerning consumers’ behaviour. The result of our analysis is that we call into serious question the practical workability of the test of the average consumer, which requires consumers an overly demanding standard of rationality and information without dedicating much attention to the real functioning of consumer behaviour. The average consumer may be described as an interesting, anti-paternalistic and, to some extent, useful notion. It is, however, an overly simplistic concept with little correspondence with the real world of individual consumer behaviour and should be reinterpreted more flexibly, or even abandoned to mirror consumer behaviour more effectively. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10603-006-9027-9
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Consumer Policy.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 21-38

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jcopol:v:30:y:2007:i:1:p:21-38

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100283

    Related research

    Keywords: Average consumer; Unfair commercial practice directive; Cognitive studies;

    References

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    1. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    2. repec:reg:wpaper:320 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jacoby, Jacob, 1984. " Perspectives on Information Overload," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(4), pages 432-35, March.
    4. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    5. Malhotra, Naresh K, 1982. " Information Load and Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 419-30, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Lucy Delgadillo, 2013. "An Assessment of Consumer Protection and Consumer Empowerment in Costa Rica," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 59-86, March.
    2. Michael Faure & Hanneke Luth, 2011. "Behavioural Economics in Unfair Contract Terms," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 337-358, September.
    3. Willem Boom, 2011. "Price Intransparency, Consumer Decision Making and European Consumer Law," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 359-376, September.
    4. Jan Trzaskowski, 2011. "Behavioural Economics, Neuroscience, and the Unfair Commercial Practises Directive," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 377-392, September.
    5. Kerstin Gidlöf & Annika Wallin & Kenneth Holmqvist & Peter Møgelvang-Hansen, 2013. "Material Distortion of Economic Behaviour and Everyday Decision Quality," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 389-402, December.

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