Skip to main content

Please enter a keyword and click the arrow to search the site

'Hidden persuaders': defaults and consumer welfare



Authors / Editors

Smith N C;Goldstein D G

Publication Year



Defaults have been shown to have such powerful and unrecognized effects on consumer behavior that in some settings they may be considered ‘hidden persuaders’. This paper looks at defaults from the perspective of consumer welfare, consumer autonomy and marketing ethics. It surveys research on defaults and identifies three theoretical explanations for default effects: implied endorsement, cognitive biases, and effort. These theoretical explanations are informative in understanding the implications of defaults for consumer autonomy and consumer welfare. While attention has been paid to the means through which defaults can enhance consumer welfare, we show how, in certain circumstances, defaults can diminish consumer autonomy and also have adverse effects on consumer welfare. We conclude with implications for marketers, consumers, policymakers and researchers.

Publication Research Centre

Centre for Marketing

Series Number



Centre for Marketing Working Paper

Available on ECCH


Select up to 4 programmes to compare

Select one more to compare
subscribe_image_desktop 5949B9BFE33243D782D1C7A17E3345D0

Sign up to receive our latest news and business thinking direct to your inbox


Sign up to receive our latest course information and business thinking

Leave your details above if you would like to receive emails containing the latest thought leadership, invitations to events and news about courses that could enhance your career. If you would prefer not to receive our emails, you can still access the case study by clicking the button below. You can opt-out of receiving our emails at any time by visiting: or by unsubscribing through the link provided in our emails. View our Privacy Policy for more information on your rights.