The Psychology of Expensive Paper


I use 28-pound printer paper for my pleadings. Have done for years. Judges and prosecutors often notice the paper: it’s heavy, stiff, and smooth. It also costs almost four times times as much as cheap paper (2.3 cents, vs. 0.64 cents per page), which can add up; my justification for using it has been that the things I’m filing with the court are important, so they should look and feel important (I put some effort and money into typography as well).

Yesterday Sarah “Bennett’s Former Brain” Wood sent me a link to a Psychology Today post that supports that justification:

New research…shows that the weight, texture, and hardness of the things we touch are, in fact, unconsciously factored into our decisions about things that have nothing to do with what we are touching. Potentially, every decision we make.

* * * * *

[W]hen we hold something heavy, we actually see seriousness and importance in people and issues that we might not otherwise.

* * * * *

As with weight and texture, hardness exerts an influence on our perceptions and behavior. People who had earlier examined a hard piece of wood later judged an employee interacting with his boss as more rigid and strict than did people who had first examined a soft blanket.

The bad news for Bennett’s pleadings, though:

In another study, feeling roughness led participants to negotiate poorly, offering their counterparts better deals than people who’d held smooth things did—because they saw the bargaining task as more difficult.

I may have to start printing prosecutors’ copies of my motions on sandpaper. Judges will still be getting the good stuff.


9 responses to “The Psychology of Expensive Paper”

  1. I need to put you in touch with my dad’s printing business for all of your expensive paper purchasing! You could put my kids through college.

    I agree with you about the paper choice. Having grown up around the printing business, I’m a paper snob, too.

  2. For years, I used to use this 25 lb. paper called “Esquire Bond,” with great weight and a solid feel. Then, they changed it and it felt like every other piece of crappy 20 lb. paper. If only I could find the old, real, stuff again. I adore good paper stock.

  3. E-filing signals the death of this. If they want a hardcopy they will print it out on whatever flimsy paper the government bought from the cheapest source.

  4. A brand is a fusion of many things. Quality of paper stock and typography can certainly be important in perception. Coke’s marketing people spend countless hours thinking about its fonts. Yet the key branding item is the quality of the product or service.

  5. LOL your post cracked me up. I always stock paper as well. Handy and effortless especially if you find the need to use it often. “I may have to start printing prosecutors’ copies of my motions on sandpaper.” I wonder how that would go.

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