Economics Faculty Publications

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Attitudes toward consumer protection are shaped primarily by complex assumptions about human nature and its interaction with modern marketing. The dominant perspective governing American consumer law is individualism, a descriptive and frequently normative assumption that places watchdog responsibilities on the individual consumer. This perspective is described and analyzed through an examination of public policy arguments about (1) advertising that targets children, (2) restrictions on consumption of sugared beverages, and (3) creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. Individualism is then contrasted with the portrayal of consumers as vulnerable. Specifically, insights from behavioral economics and neuropsychology are used to gain a more accurate starting point for creating consumer protection laws and regulations that reflect respect for consumers as they are, rather than as who they are in deductive rational actor models of market exchange.

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Originally published in the Drake Law Review, January 2015

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Drake Law Review