Revisit: Product Literacy


Special issue of Journal of Consumer Affairs, Guest editors Steven W. Kopp and Anastasia E. Thyroff; Deadline 1 Apr 2011

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Call for Papers for The Journal of Consumer Affairs
Special Issue on: Product Literacy

Special Issue Editors:

Steven W. Kopp and Anastasia E. Thyroff
Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas

Since the first efforts in consumer protection were undertaken over a century ago, consumer education has been a fundamental precept. In the early 20th Century, not only did much of the population of the United States migrate to cities where people no longer consumed what they produced, but the products that they consumed also became more complicated. In the 21st century, the dilemmas of product complexity and consumer education have become even more significant. Beyond the obvious technological complexities of computers and cars that defy home repairs, consumers don’t know the content of the food that they eat or the energy efficiencies of many of the appliances that they use. Thus, JCA, the oldest journal devoted to concerns of consumers in the marketplace, solicits papers that address whether, how and why consumers understand information related to various types of products. We seek contributions from multiple disciplines including communications, consumer education, economics, finance, law, public policy, psychology and marketing. Authors may submit empirical studies or rigorous conceptual/theoretically grounded work that contains implications for consumer welfare, with research questions and implications addressed from the consumers’ point of view.

Topics that would be appropriate for this special issue include, but are not limited to:

  • Food ingredient labels, both on grocery shelves and at restaurants
  • Privacy disclosure statements and identity protection
  • Product warranties for cars, or other products, both simple or complex
  • Adequacy of current measures and/or proposed alternative measures of product literacy and their effectiveness
  • Financial products for consumer savings, investments or retirement planning
  • Product literacy problems of vulnerable or disadvantaged consumer groups
  • Information provision through various media (e.g., comparable information provided via product labeling versus mainstream advertising versus online)
  • Communication of environmental information (sustainability, recycling)
  • The role of consumer education in products liability
  • Potential product miseducation, such as popular-yet-false consumer beliefs, unavailable product information or corporate-influenced product ratings sources
  • Product quality of dietary supplements, "alternative" medicines or other medications
  • Consumer knowledge – sources, uses, and missing information (e.g. the use of price as a proxy for missing product information)

Submission Information

Manuscripts are due by April 1, 2011. Please follow the submission guidelines for The Journal of Consumer Affairs on the website at

Authors wishing to submit a manuscript should send one electronic file with the full title page and one copy cleaned of all information that identifies the authors to either of the special issue co-editors:

Steve Kopp,
Anastasia Thyroff,