Shmuel Becher, a senior lecturer at the College of Management Academic Studies School of Law in Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel, gave a series of talks on law, behavioralism and happiness during a visit to the law school in August and September.
During presentations to students and law faculty, Becher discussed the interplay between human psychology and consumer behavior that leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by businesses and marketers.
Advertising deceptively, manipulating environments such as infusing auto showrooms with the scent of leather and even offering generous return policies are among the marketing and sales tactics that reflect keen insights into consumer psychology, Becher said, citing a raft of studies on human behavior.
Knowing that people overvalue what they buy – a phenomenon behavioral scientists have called “the endowment effect” – retailers push consumers to purchase extended warranties that are never a good deal, Becher said during a seminar with students.
“People receive lots of information unconsciously,” Becher said during a faculty colloquium discussion, noting that they make many decisions as consumers without reflecting or exercising judgment.
U.S. law, with its focus on explicit verbal communications, has limited power to curb manipulation, Becher said. Although it’s relatively easy to measure and prove deception in advertising, Becher said laws that address the adverse effects on consumers would be more beneficial.
The head of commercial and civil law at the College of Management Academic Studies School of Law, Becher founded the Consumer Law Clinic, which cooperates with the Israeli Consumer Council. He also leads the dispute resolution center at The Public Trust, a non-profit organization that promotes a fair consumer-business environment.