Bechera and Dadushb, ‘Relationship as Product Transacting in the Age of Loneliness’

Humans have different types of relationships. Behavioral economists and social psychologists distinguish between two main types. The first type is the ‘exchange relationship’, based on mutual economic benefit and efficiency principles. The second is the ‘communal relationship’, based on care, kindness, support, and affection. The law has been slow to incorporate this distinction. This is particularly true in the consumer marketplace, where businesses increasingly employ communal tactics to achieve exchange outcomes. Today’s firms are in the business of selling not only products or services, but also ‘communal’ or ‘social’ relationships. We dub this phenomenon ‘relationship as product’. We conjecture that selling relationship as product generates various negative outcomes. By encouraging consumers to behave emotionally, relationship as product lowers consumers’ defenses. It encourages consumers to overlook their self-interest and invest more money, attention, and time in buying products and services and interacting with firms …

Shmuel I Bechera and Sarah Dadushb, Relationship as Product Transacting in the Age of Loneliness, 2021 University of Illinois Law Review 1547 (October 25, 2021).

First posted 2021-10-27 15:00:16

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