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Smart defaults: from hidden persuaders to adaptive helpers

Author: Smith, N. Craig ; Goldstein, Daniel G. ; Johnson, Eric J.INSEAD Area: Faculty at Large Series: Working Paper ; 2008/20/ISIC Publisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD Social Innovation Centre (ISIC) 2008.Language: EnglishDescription: 31 p.Type of document: INSEAD Working Paper Online Access: Click here Abstract: Defaults have been shown to have such powerful and unrecognised effects on consumer behaviour that in some settings they may be considered as "hidden persuaders". While much attention has been paid to the beneficial consequences of defaults, we discuss how, in certain circumstances, defaults can be chosen to disadvantage consumers. This paper looks at defaults from the perspective of consumer welfare, consumer autonomy, and marketing ethics. It identifies three theoretical causes of default effects - implied endorsement, cognitive biases, and effort - to guide thought on the issues posed for consumer autonomy and welfare. We propose the concept of "smart defaults" and "adaptive defaults" as welfare-enhancing alternatives, in addition to other remedies, and conclude with implications for marketers, consumers, policymakers and researchers. Next title: Smart defaults: from hidden persuaders to adaptive helpers (RV of 2008/20/ISIC) - Smith, N. Craig;Goldstein, Daniel G.;Joh - 2009 - INSEAD Working Paper
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Defaults have been shown to have such powerful and unrecognised effects on consumer behaviour that in some settings they may be considered as "hidden persuaders". While much attention has been paid to the beneficial consequences of defaults, we discuss how, in certain circumstances, defaults can be chosen to disadvantage consumers. This paper looks at defaults from the perspective of consumer welfare, consumer autonomy, and marketing ethics. It identifies three theoretical causes of default effects - implied endorsement, cognitive biases, and effort - to guide thought on the issues posed for consumer autonomy and welfare. We propose the concept of "smart defaults" and "adaptive defaults" as welfare-enhancing alternatives, in addition to other remedies, and conclude with implications for marketers, consumers, policymakers and researchers.

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