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

Author

Listed:
  • Rossella Incardona

    ()

  • Cristina Poncibò

    ()

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

Suggested Citation

  • Rossella Incardona & Cristina Poncibò, 2007. "The average consumer, the unfair commercial practices directive, and the cognitive revolution," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 21-38, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jcopol:v:30:y:2007:i:1:p:21-38
    DOI: 10.1007/s10603-006-9027-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Malhotra, Naresh K, 1982. " Information Load and Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(4), pages 419-430, March.
    2. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    3. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    4. Jacoby, Jacob, 1984. " Perspectives on Information Overload," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 432-435, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Willem Boom, 2011. "Price Intransparency, Consumer Decision Making and European Consumer Law," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 359-376, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Michael Faure & Hanneke Luth, 2011. "Behavioural Economics in Unfair Contract Terms," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 337-358, September.
    4. repec:kap:jcopol:v:40:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10603-017-9349-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jeannie Paterson & Gerard Brody, 2015. "“Safety Net” Consumer Protection: Using Prohibitions on Unfair and Unconscionable Conduct to Respond to Predatory Business Models," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 331-355, September.
    6. 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.
    7. repec:kap:jcopol:v:40:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10603-016-9338-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Jan Trzaskowski, 2011. "Behavioural Economics, Neuroscience, and the Unfair Commercial Practises Directive," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 377-392, September.

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