"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..."
A measurement study of showing how the majority (90%) of social media influencers do not disclose their relationships with advertisers to their audience.
A serious book on the topic of technology and ethics, widely considered a "must read".
Richard Thaler argues that "negative nudging" should be called "sludging".
"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."
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.
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.
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."
Academic analysis of different forms of dark patterns.
"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.
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.
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.
A detailed introductory textbook on dark patterns and how to avoid them.
"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."
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.
"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."
"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?"
The American Psychological Association provides its members with these strict Ethical Principles, and a Code of Conduct.
"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."
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.
A diagram of over 200 Cognitive Biases, grouped by theme.
"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."
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
"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?"
The FTC's enforcement policy statement regarding advertising and promotional messages that are presented as non-commercial content.
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").
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
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.
"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."
"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..."
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.
A series of articles exploring the psychology of persuasion online.
One of the original articles written about Dark Patterns in 2011.
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.
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.
"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."
A classic and highly readable book on Behavioural Economics by Dan Ariely. Helped inspire the concept of "Dark Patterns".
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.
"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."
"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.:
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.
"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."
"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."
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.
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)
"People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences."
"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."
"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."
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.
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."
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.
"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.
"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."
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.