We are much more likely to give consent than we think.
By Roseanna Sommers and Vanessa K. Bohns
Law enforcement officers on the doorstep threatening to "come back with a warrant" is a cliché of police procedural dramas. Things are much less dramatic in real life: The officers ask if they can take a look around, and the civilians say yes without putting up a fight.
A key question in so-called "consent-search" cases is why people so readily agree to allow intrusions into their privacy. The answer, as we argue in a forthcoming article in The Yale Law Journal, is that psychologically, it's much harder to refuse consent than it seems. The degree of pressure needed to get people to comply is shockingly minimal - and our ability to recognize this fact is limited.