Deceptive Design (formerly

Reading list

Why Customer Service Frustrates Consumers: Using a Tiered Organizational Structure to Exploit Hassle Costs

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"Many Customer Service Organizations (CSOs) reflect a tiered, or multi-level, organizational structure, which we argue imposes hassle costs for dissatisfied customers seeking high levels of redress. [...] We argue that the tiered structure helps the firm to control redress costs..."

Anthony Dukes and Yi Zhu | Dec 07, 2018

Dec 07, 2018

Endorsements on Social Media: An Empirical Study of Affiliate Marketing Disclosures on YouTube and Pinterest

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A measurement study of showing how the majority (90%) of social media influencers do not disclose their relationships with advertisers to their audience.

Arunesh Mathur, Arvind Narayanan, Marshini Chetty | Nov 01, 2018

Nov 01, 2018

Future Ethics

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A serious book on the topic of technology and ethics, widely considered a "must read".

Bowles, Cennydd | Sep 25, 2018

Sep 25, 2018

Nudge, not sludge

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Richard Thaler argues that "negative nudging" should be called "sludging".

Richard Thaler | Aug 03, 2018

Aug 03, 2018

Regulating at scale

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"To tame the, sometimes, harmful power of enormous platforms, we need to reconsider the mathematics of regulation. The law tends to treat the growth of a company linearly, while the power and harm of online activity increases at a much faster rate. We need to scale up the mathematics of regulation to deal with many of the problems of massive digital platforms."

Paul Ohm | Jul 01, 2018

Jul 01, 2018

Dark intentions or persuasion? UX designers' activation of stakeholder and user values

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Researchers interviewed student UX designers while they carried out a design task. They found the designers had sensitivity towards user values, but often contradicted these values through dark intentions to persuade users, thereby achieving stakeholder goals.

Chivukula, Shruthi Sai; Brier, Jason; Gray, Colin M. | May 01, 2018

May 01, 2018

# darkpatterns: UX Practitioner Conversations About Ethical Design

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This short paper described conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #darkpatterns. The authors found that UX practitioners were most likely to share tweets with this hashtag, and that a majority of tweets either mentioned an artifact or “shames” an organization that engages in manipulative UX practices.

Fansher, Madison, Chivukula, Shruthi Sai and Gray, Colin M. | Apr 21, 2018

Apr 21, 2018

Privacy's Blueprint

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Every day, Internet users interact with technologies designed to undermine their privacy. [...] In Privacy’s Blueprint, Woodrow Hartzog pushes back against this state of affairs, arguing that the law should require software and hardware makers to respect privacy in the design of their products."

Hartzog, Woodrow | Apr 09, 2018

Apr 09, 2018

The Dark (Patterns) Side of UX Design

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Academic analysis of different forms of dark patterns.

Colin M. Gray, Yubo Kou, Bryan Battles, Joseph Hoggatt, Austin Toombs | Apr 01, 2018

Apr 01, 2018

Ethical Design: The Practical Getting-Started Guide

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"As designers and developers, we have an obligation to build experiences that are better than the norm. This article explains how unethical design happens, and how to do ethical design through a set of best practices.

Trine Falbe | Mar 16, 2018

Mar 16, 2018

Gotcha Capitalism: How Hidden Fees Rip You Off Every Day - and What You Can Do About It

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You didn’t fill up the rental car with gas? Gotcha! Gas costs $7 a gallon here. Your bank balance fell to $999.99 for one day? Gotcha! That’ll be $12. You miss one payment on that 18-month same-as-cash loan? Gotcha! That’ll be $512 extra. You’re one day late on that electric bill? Gotcha! All your credit cards now have a 29.99% interest rate.

Bob Sullivan | Jan 12, 2018

Jan 12, 2018

The Prize in Economic Sciences

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The 2017 Nobel Prize was awarded to Richard H. Thaler "for his contributions to behavioural economics", integrating economics with psychology. Behavioural economics is widely considered to be a useful framework with which to consider Dark Patterns.

Author unknown | Oct 09, 2017

Oct 09, 2017

Stubhub false urgency

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| Sep 11, 2017

Sep 11, 2017

White Hat UX

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A detailed introductory textbook on dark patterns and how to avoid them.

Trine Falbe, Kim Andersen & Martin Michael Frederiksen | Aug 01, 2017

Aug 01, 2017

Digital Patterns - a marketing perspective

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"Cross-disciplinary convergences show the importance of strategic design in building online experiences which can speak volumes about your company and drive - or totally blow up - sales and brand reputation."

Podestà, Silvia | Jun 26, 2017

Jun 26, 2017

Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

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Growth teams are often responsible for implementing Dark Patterns. This book gives an insight into how they think. Most if not all of their methods can be used in a perfectly benign manner.

Ellis, Sean; Brown, Morgan | Apr 25, 2017

Apr 25, 2017

Scanning Patterns on the Web Are Optimized for the Current Task

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"How users attend to information on a page depends on their tasks and goals, as confirmed by new eyetracking research. Good design promotes efficient scanning. In usability studies, (biased) task formulation may tip users to discover features."

Pernice, Kara | Mar 19, 2017

Mar 19, 2017

Podcast #150 Dark Patterns with Harry Brignull

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"We discuss some examples as well as the ethics behind implementing them and ask if “light patterns” exist. We talk about how dark patterns go beyond the web and into service design. Should we avoid using dark patterns in our designs? Well, we think yes – so in that case, how?"

Per Axbom and James Royal-Lawson | Feb 03, 2017

Feb 03, 2017

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.

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The American Psychological Association provides its members with these strict Ethical Principles, and a Code of Conduct.

Author unknown | Jan 01, 2017

Jan 01, 2017

The Year Dark Patterns Won

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"This year, it felt like nearly every app and product had embraced some form of dark pattern. Users tweeted about seeing them on Skype, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Office Depot, even America’s Test Kitchen, and yes, LinkedIn–truly a dark pattern early adopter."

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan | Dec 21, 2016

Dec 21, 2016

SSRN: Why Customer Service Frustrates Consumers: Using a Tiered Organizational Structure to Exploit Hassle Costs

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Many Customer Service Organizations (CSOs) reflect a tiered, or multi-level, organizational structure, which we argue imposes hassle costs for dissatisfied customers seeking high levels of redress.

| Sep 03, 2016

Sep 03, 2016

The Cognitive Bias Codex

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A diagram of over 200 Cognitive Biases, grouped by theme.

Benson, Buster; Manoogian, John | Sep 01, 2016

Sep 01, 2016

Dark Patterns are designed to trick you (and they’re all over the Web)

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"It happens to the best of us. After looking closely at a bank statement or cable bill, suddenly a small, unrecognizable charge appears. Fine print sleuthing soon provides the answer—somehow, you accidentally signed up for a service. Whether it was an unnoticed pre-marked checkbox or an offhanded verbal agreement at the end of a long phone call, now a charge arrives each month because naturally the promotion has ended. If the possibility of a refund exists, it’ll be found at the end of 45 minutes of holding music or a week’s worth of angry e-mails."

Yael Grauer | Jul 28, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

When Websites Won’t Take No for an Answer

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Harry Brignull, a user-experience consultant in Britain who helps websites and apps develop consumer-friendly features, has a professional bone to pick with sites that seem to maneuver people into signing up for services they might not actually want

Natasha Singer | May 15, 2016

May 15, 2016

Tragic Design: The True Impact of Bad Design and How to Fix It

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"Bad design is everywhere, and its cost is much higher than we think. In this thought-provoking book, authors Jonathan Shariat and Cynthia Savard Saucier explain how poorly designed products can anger, sadden, exclude, and even kill people who use them. The designers responsible certainly didn’t intend harm, so what can you do to avoid making similar mistakes?"

Shariat, Jonathan; Savard Saucier, Cynthia | Apr 25, 2016

Apr 25, 2016

Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements

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The FTC's enforcement policy statement regarding advertising and promotional messages that are presented as non-commercial content.

Author unknown | Apr 18, 2016

Apr 18, 2016

Tales from the Dark Side: Privacy Dark Strategies and Privacy Dark Patterns

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Bösch, C., Erb, B., Kargl, F., Kopp, H., & Pfattheicher, S | Feb 29, 2016

Feb 29, 2016

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

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This book is controversial in that it takes BJ Fogg's psychological model and applies it a new model that facilitates addiction (aka getting "hooked").

Eyal, Nir | Nov 04, 2014

Nov 04, 2014


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"In Technocreep, Dr. Keenan explores some of the most troublesome privacy-invasive scenarios encountered on the web and offers users a number of excellent, practical ideas on how best to protect their privacy and identity online."

Keenan, Thomas | Aug 01, 2014

Aug 01, 2014

The dark patterns of proxemic sensing

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Proxemic sensing devices are things like smart billboards that respond to the behaviour and characteristics of the people around them. In this research paper, the authors explore the risks of Dark Patterns in this new type of technology.

Boring, Sebastian; Greenberg, Saul; Vermeulen, Jo; Dostal, Jakub; Marquardt, Nicolai | Jun 21, 2014

Jun 21, 2014

Dark patterns in proxemic interactions

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"While interest in proxemic interactions has increased over the last few years, it also has a dark side: knowledge of proxemics may (and likely will) be easily exploited to the detriment of the user. In this paper, we offer a critical perspective on proxemic interactions in the form of dark patterns: ways proxemic interactions can be misused."

Greenberg, Saul; Boring, Sebastian; Vermeulen, Jo; Dostal, Jakub | Jun 21, 2014

Jun 21, 2014

Irresistible apps: Motivational design patterns for apps, games, and web-based communities

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"When you create an app, a website, or a game, how do you get users, and perhaps more importantly, how do you keep them? Irresistible Apps explains exactly how to do this using a library of 27 motivational design patterns and real-world examples of how they work."

Lewis, Christopher Francis | Mar 13, 2014

Mar 13, 2014

In Italy, Ryanair was fined € 850,000 for its famously hard to find to find "don't insure me" dark pattern.

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"The Authority has also considered unfair, cumbersome and misleading, the mechanism imposed to consumers in order to select the no-purchase option of the travel insurance policy: in the Ryanair booking process it is necessary to go through the window of Country of Residence and select the option “refuse insurance”, positioned – in the Italian website - between Netherlands and Norway."

Agcm | Feb 17, 2014

Feb 17, 2014

Don't Make Me Think

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"Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, hundreds of thousands of Web designers and developers have relied on usability guru Steve Krug’s guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, it’s one of the best-loved and most recommended books on the subject."

Krug, Steve | Jan 09, 2014

Jan 09, 2014

Dirty Little Secrets of Web Design with Harry Brignull

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Ever had a frustrating experience trying to find something on a website? You probably blamed yourself, but Harry Brignull says the real culprit is "dark patterns" - dirty tricks of web design.

Nora Young | Nov 15, 2013

Nov 15, 2013

Evil by Design

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"Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we’re susceptible to certain persuasive techniques."

Nodder, Chris | Jul 26, 2013

Jul 26, 2013

The psychology of fatigue: Work, effort and control

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"Fatigue can have a major impact on an individual's performance and well-being, yet is poorly understood, even within the scientific community. There is no developed theory of its origins or functions, and different types of fatigue (mental, physical, sleepiness) are routinely confused. In the first book dedicated to the systematic treatment of fatigue for over sixty years, Robert Hockey examines its many aspects - social history, neuroscience, energetics, exercise physiology, sleep and clinical implications..."

Hockey, Robert | Jun 01, 2013

Jun 01, 2013

Dark Patterns in the Design of Games

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The authors develop the concept of dark design patterns in games, present examples of such patterns, explore some of the subtleties involved in identifying them, and provide questions that can be asked to help guide in the specification and identification of future Dark Patterns.

Zagal, J. P., Björk, S., & Lewis, C | May 14, 2013

May 14, 2013

Dark Patterns - The Art of Online Deception

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A series of articles exploring the psychology of persuasion online.

Gawley, Kyle | Apr 05, 2013

Apr 05, 2013

Dark Patterns: Deception vs. Honesty in UI Design

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One of the original articles written about Dark Patterns in 2011.

Harry Brignull | Nov 01, 2011

Nov 01, 2011

Dark Patterns: dirty tricks designers use to make people do stuff

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The blog post that started it all - in which Harry Brignull introduces the concept of Dark Patterns and asks for input from the design community.

Harry Brignull | Jul 08, 2010

Jul 08, 2010

Malicious interface design: Exploiting the user

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This paper provides a taxonomy of dark patterns (though they do not use the term) and an analysis of their impact on users. Analysis is based on primary research including a review of thousands of web sites and three surveys.

Conti, Gregory; Sobiesk, Edward | Apr 26, 2010

Apr 26, 2010

The Scarcity Bias

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"Two experiments provided empirical support for the scarcity bias, that is, when the subjective value of a good increases due to the mere fact that it is scarce."

Mittone, Luigi; Savadori, Lucia | Jun 09, 2009

Jun 09, 2009

Predictably Irrational, Revised: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

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A classic and highly readable book on Behavioural Economics by Dan Ariely. Helped inspire the concept of "Dark Patterns".

Ariely, Dan | Mar 05, 2009

Mar 05, 2009

Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness

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A book by Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. It draws on research in psychology and behavioral economics to defend libertarian paternalism and active engineering of choice architecture.

Thaler, Richard H.; Sunstein, Cass R. | Apr 08, 2008

Apr 08, 2008

How people read on the web: the eyetracking evidence

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"The findings in this 412-page report are the culmination of three large-scale eyetracking studies spanning 13 years, involving over 500 participants and more than 750 hours of testing session time."

Nielsen, Jakob; Norman, D. A.; Pernice, Kara; Whitenton, Kathryn; Nielsen, Jakob | Jan 01, 2006

Jan 01, 2006

Defaults and donation decisions

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"The well-documented shortage of donated organs suggests that greater effort should be made to increase the number of individuals who decide to become potential donors. We examine the role of one factor: the no-action default for agreement. We first argue that such decisions are constructed in response to the question, and therefore influenced by the form of the question. We then describe research that shows that presumed consent increases agreement to be a donor, and compare countries with opt-in (explicit consent) and opt-out (presumed consent) defaults. Our analysis shows that opt-in countries have much higher rates of apparent agreement with donation, and a statistically significant higher rate of donations, even with appropriate statistical controls. We close by discussing the costs and benefits associated with both defaults as well as mandated choice.:

Johnson, Eric J.; Goldstein, Daniel G. | Nov 27, 2004

Nov 27, 2004

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

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The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 established the United States' first national standards for the sending of commercial e-mail. It is enforced by the FTC. It contains rules against dark patterns, e.g. a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism must be present in all marketing emails.

Author unknown | Dec 16, 2003

Dec 16, 2003

Do Defaults Save Lives?

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"The article discusses how should policy-makers choose defaults regarding organ donors. First, consider that every policy must have a no-action default, and defaults impose physical, cognitive, and, in the case of donation, emotional costs on those who must change their status. Second, note that defaults can lead to two kinds of misclassification, willing donors who are not identified or people who become donors against their wishes. Changes in defaults could increase donations in the United States of additional thousands of donors a year. Because each donor can be used for about three transplants, the consequences are substantial in lives saved."

Johnson, Eric J.; Goldstein, Daniel | Nov 21, 2003

Nov 21, 2003

Defaults, Framing and Privacy: Why Opting In-Opting Out

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"Differences in opt-in and opt-out responses are an important element of the current public debate concerning on-line privacy and more generally for permission marketing. We explored the issue empirically. Using two on-line experiments we show that the default has a major role in determining revealed preferences for further contact with a Web site. We then explore the origins of these differences showing that both framing and defaults have separate and additive effects in affecting the construction of preferences."

Johnson, Eric J.; Bellman, Steven; Lohse, Gerald L. | Feb 01, 2002

Feb 01, 2002

The sunk cost and concorde effects: Are humans less rational than lower animals?

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The authors contend that there are no unambiguous instances of the sunk cost (aka concorde) fallacy in lower animals. They also find that young children, when placed in an equivalent economic situation, exhibit more normatively correct behaviour than do adults.

Arkes, Hal R.; Ayton, Peter | Jan 01, 1999

Jan 01, 1999

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

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In appendix A of the classic paper "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine", Brin and Page argue against advertising as a business model for their search engine (which later became Google)

| Apr 01, 1998

Apr 01, 1998

How users read on the Web.

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"People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences."

Nielsen, Jakob | Sep 30, 1997

Sep 30, 1997

Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web

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"Studies of how users read on the Web found that they do not actually read: instead, they scan the text. A study of five different writing styles found that a sample Web site scored 58% higher in measured usability when it was written concisely, 47% higher when the text was scannable, and 27% higher when it was written in an objective style instead of the promotional style used in the control condition and many current Web pages. Combining these three changes into a single site that was concise, scannable, and objective at the same time resulted in 124% higher measured usability."

Nielsen, Jakob; Morkes, John | Jan 01, 1997

Jan 01, 1997

NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS Adult Literacy in America Third Edition A First Look at the Findings of the National Adult Literacy Survey

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"This report provides a first look at the results of the National Adult Literacy Survey, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and administered by Educational Testing Service, in collaboration with Westat, Inc. It provides the most detailed portrait that has ever been available on the condition of literacy in this nation -- and on the unrealized potential of its citizens."

Kirsch, Irwin S.; Jungeblut, Ann; Jenkins, Lynn; Kolstad, Andrew; Secretary, Richard W. Riley; Robinson, Sharon P.; Secretary, Assistant | Aug 30, 1993

Aug 30, 1993

A Simple Model of Herd Behavior

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We analyze a sequential decision model in which each decision maker looks at the decisions made by previous decision makers in taking her own decision. [...] We then show that the decision rules that are chosen by optimizing individuals will be characterized by herd behavior.

Banerjee, Abhijit V. | Aug 01, 1992

Aug 01, 1992

Rationality in Psychology and Economics

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In this paper, Herb Simon introduces the idea that "the knowledge and the computational power of the decision maker are severely limited" and "we must distinguish between the real world and the actor’s perception of it and reasoning about it."

Simon, Herbert A. | Oct 01, 1986

Oct 01, 1986

A study of some social factors in perception

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Muzafer Sherif was a Turkish-American social psychologist who helped develop social judgment theory and realistic conflict theory. This is his PhD thesis. In chapter 3, he reports the famous autokinetic movement experiments.

Sherif, M. | Jul 01, 1985

Jul 01, 1985

The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice

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"Framing" occurs when people make choices based on whether the options are presented as positive (a gain) or negative (a loss) connotations. This classic research paper provides evidence.

Tversky, Amos; Kahneman, Daniel | Jan 30, 1981

Jan 30, 1981

Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk

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"This paper presents a critique of expected utility theory as a descriptive model of decision making under risk, and develops an alternative model, called prospect theory. Choices among risky prospects exhibit several pervasive effects that are inconsistent with the basic tenets of utility theory."

Kahneman, Daniel; Tversky, Amos | Mar 01, 1979

Mar 01, 1979

Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases

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A heuristic is a rule of thumb or "cognitive shortcut" that humans use to make decisions. Heuristics are prone to biases, i.e. mistakes that we are all prone to making. This classic paper from 1974 explains three heuristics and associated biases.

Tversky & Kahneman | Sep 27, 1974

Sep 27, 1974