Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Assent and Consent

Do you know that assent and consent are different terms with respective meanings despite having the same sounding at the end? These are words that may also be used in similar contexts to signal agreement, but each delivers a more specific meaning based on the people involved.

While used as verbs, to assent means to give approval while to consent is to express willingness. As nouns, assent means an agreement or act of agreeing while consent means a voluntary agreement or permission given by an individual.


What is Assent?

Assent is defined as an agreement from someone who is yet of legal age to give consent to participate in a particular activity. Usually, this is applied when, for example, research needs to be done, and the subjects are underage or children. These are people who are not capable of giving informed consent, but they can give their assent while their parents or legal guardians give the consent on their behalf.

In a plain explanation, assent means agreement on the face of it.


What is Consent?

Permission qualifies to be consent when an individual voluntarily agrees to a proposal, desire, or request by another person. Even though it is a term of common speech, it may express more specific definitions, for example, in the medicine, sexual relationships, law, and research fields.

On the face of it, consent means knowledgeable, freely-given, and informed agreement.

Types of Consents

There are five main types of consents. These include:

  • Implied consent: – this consent is not expressly granted by an individual. Rather, it is inferred by the actions of the person, their silence, inaction, or the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation at hand.
  • Expressed consent: – this is a clearly and unmistakably stated consent, rather than an implied one. This type is given orally, in writing, or non-verbally (using gestures like nodding).
  • Informed consent: – this is a consent type given by an individual with the clear understanding and appreciation of the facts in place, the implications, as well as the consequences of what they consent to participate in. This consent is usually given in the medical and research fields.
  • Substituted consent: – this is also referred to as substituted judgement doctrine and is given to allow an individual to try and establish an incompetent person’s decision if they made it when they were incompetent.


Difference Between Assent and Consent


Assent means agreement with something, request, or to an activity while consent means giving permission for something to happen, participate in an activity, or voluntarily agree to a proposal or request.


Consent is only obtained from people who are of legal age while assent is obtained from people under the legal age of consenting.

Who Gives Consent Vs. Who Gives Assent

If a project requiring permission is involving adults, then consent is required, but if it involves children, then assent should also be obtained while a grown-up representing the minors will give the consent on their behalf.

Assent Vs. Consent in Research

While conducting research using human subjects consent refers to a legally entered agreement between the researcher and participant while assent refers to a willingness by the subject to take part in the study.

Assent Vs. Consent in the Legal Field

In the legal field, a consent is a legally binding agreement while an assent is not legally binding.

Assent Vs. Consent: Comparison Table


Summary of Assent Vs. Consent

Before any activity involving more than one person can happen, there has to be a mutual agreement between the participants. The difference arises when the subjects involved are either above or below the legal age of issuing a consent. This difference brings out the whole variance between a consent and assent since a consent is to adults or legally qualified people while assent is for underage individuals or people who are not qualified to give consent.


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References :

[0]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/agree-english-consent-contract-1728448/

[1]Image credit: http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/handwriting/images/consent.jpg

[2]"Assent Vs. Consent – What’S The Difference? - Writing Explained". Writing Explained, 2019, https://writingexplained.org/assent-vs-consent-difference. Accessed 19 Mar 2019.

[3]"Consent And Assent | Institutional Review Board". Uaf.Edu, 2019, https://www.uaf.edu/irb/faqs/consent-and-assent/. Accessed 19 Mar 2019.

[4]"Do You Need To Obtain Consent And/Or Assent?". Unk.Edu, 2019, http://www.unk.edu/academics/gradstudies/irb/application-procedure/flow-chart/assent-or-consent.php. Accessed 19 Mar 2019.

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