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The Effect of Dark Patterns and User Knowledge on User Experience and Decision-Making

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Persuasive Technology (PERSUASIVE 2024)


Dark patterns, aka deceptive designs, have become prevalent in the online environment. In this paper, we examined how dark patterns and knowledge of them impact user experience, decision-making, and vendor reputation using the purchase of a subscription plan on a hypothetical streaming website as proof of concept. We conducted a between-subjects study to examine the effect of two common dark patterns (confirmshaming and trick-question) compared against a control condition. Overall, users perceived both patterns as manipulative. However, this negative perception did not negatively impact the website’s perceived ease of use, trustworthiness and credibility. We found that users without knowledge of dark patterns were more likely to be persuaded by confirmshaming when making purchase decisions. In the confirmshaming condition, 68% of those without knowledge of dark patterns chose the expensive plan intended by the vendor over the cheap plan. The reverse is the case among those with knowledge of dark patterns: only 35% of them chose the expensive plan. This finding indicates that once users become aware of being manipulated, they are likely to go against the promoted choice, as 40% of knowledgeable users in the trick-question condition edited their initial choice, compared with 11% and 6% in the confirmshaming and control conditions, respectively. The findings highlight the need to raise awareness about dark patterns so that unsuspecting users are less likely to make decisions that are not in their best interest.

Persuasive Technology 2024, Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Persuasive Technology. Copyright © 2024 for this paper by its authors. Use permitted under Creative Commons License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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Correspondence to Kiemute Oyibo .

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Naheyan, T., Oyibo, K. (2024). The Effect of Dark Patterns and User Knowledge on User Experience and Decision-Making. In: Baghaei, N., Ali, R., Win, K., Oyibo, K. (eds) Persuasive Technology. PERSUASIVE 2024. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 14636. Springer, Cham.

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