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Willing to dig further on dark patterns? Here are curated resources, including hundreds of publications we analyzed in our R&D Lab, conferences, webinars and job opportunities to fight dark patterns.

Colin M. Gray, Nataliia Bielova, Thomas Mildner

The paper delves into the realm of dark patterns within digital systems, utilizing Amazon Prime's 'Iliad Flow' as a case study. Additionally, it introduces the 'Temporal Analysis of Dark Patterns' (TADP) methodology to investigate how these deceptive design tactics influence user journeys. TADP takes into account individual dark patterns, their cumulative effects, and the implications for detection.

Monami DASGUPTA, Vinith KURIAN, and Rajashree GOPALAKRISHNAN (2023)

As dark patterns and their effects on users emerge in Europe and the US, India is also becoming aware of their danger and is sounding the alarm, particularly in the fintech industry. The Pravana institute took 9 fintech apps in 4 areas (lending, insurance/insurtech , investment, and neobanking) and, based on the OECD taxonomy, was able to categorize the dark patterns identified. The result is clear: at least 6 dark patterns are highly prevalent in all the apps studied. Once again, the study calls for the implementation of ethical design, with benefits for both users and the market.

Acquisti, Alessandro & Adjerid, Idris, et al. (2023)

In 2017, the authors published in ACM Computing Surveys a review of the rapidly expanding field of research on behavioral hurdles and nudges in privacy and information security. In this chapter, they augment that review by considering novel research and interesting developments in this area. They consider the expanding literature on privacy behavioral and decision-making hurdles, the ongoing debate on rationality in consumer decision-making, and the so-called privacy paradox, as well as the expanding literature on both nudges and deceptive patterns (also known as “dark patterns”). They conclude by examining the effectiveness of nudges as tools for helping individuals manage their privacy online.

Ahuja, Sanju & Kumar, Jyoti (2022)

This paper focuses on persuasion and user autonomy education. With the rise of persuasive features in interactive systems which are aimed at increasing revenue, gathering user information and maximising user engagement, users’ autonomy has been argued to be an ethical concern within persuasive UX design. Thus, the researchers test a framework to educate design students on the ethics of persuasion from the perspective of user autonomy. Findings showed that following this, their critical attitudes towards persuasive design increased. Based on this among others, they propose future directions for integrating ethics into user experience design.

Ahuja, Sanju & Kumar, Jyoti (2022)

This paper aims to conceptualize user autonomy within the context of dark patterns. The authors systematically review 151 dark patterns from 16 taxonomies to understand how dark patterns threaten users’ autonomy. They demonstrate through this analysis that implications for autonomy arise along four dimensions, because autonomy itself can be understood as subsuming several distinguishable concepts: agency, freedom of choice, control and independence. They argue that assessing whether a design pattern qualifies as ‘dark’ should account for the sense in which autonomy is threatened, as individuals’ rights and expectations of autonomy vary between contexts and depend upon the interpretation of autonomy. It aims to contribute to the development of the normative lens of individual autonomy for the evaluation of dark patterns and persuasive design.

Barros, Lirio, et al. (2023)

The authors begin the article by examining dark patterns and their prevalence based on extensive earlier research. It first discusses how behavioural economics can help us to understand the workings of dark patterns (the ‘old’), and how digitalization has changed the costs and benefits behind their implementation and exploitation (the ‘new’). They discuss how economics can inform ongoing policy discussions on appropriate regulatory responses, and how it can help to assess the effects of the use of dark patterns. They also assess two key developments in the digital space which have made dark patterns much more pervasive: minimal costs and vast gains. The effectiveness of competition policy and a healthy competition process as effective tools in curbing dark patterns are also assessed by the authors. Lastly, the article addresses important issues such as auditing and A/B testing for dark patterns, as well as using data on consumer outcomes to identify dark patterns as promising avenues to be explored in the further research and study of dark patterns.

Becher, Shmuel I. & Benoliel, Uri (2021)

This article develops the notion of 'dark contracts'. The first part explains the concept, and documents multiple non-transparent contractual mechanisms and instruments that consumer contracts often incorporate. It delineates how firms design and employ non-transparent tools in almost every possible contractual juncture: from the nature, scope, and language to performance and change to dispute resolution, conflict management, and termination. The article also examines the far-reaching implications of dark contracts and the ways in which they affect not just consumers, but also regulators, market forces, and societies at large. Lastly, it considers the transparency approach and the pros and cons of their application in consumer contracts.

Berbece, Sorin (2019)

This research reveals how dark patterns work, namely which vulnerabilities and biases they exploit. From a broader perspective, it would also allow readers to understand how techno-regulation (i.e. regulation through technology) can nowadays be used to influence individuals’ behaviour and autonomy through design. It examines the existing literature of dark patterns and acknowledges how dark patterns exploit biases, heuristics and vulnerabilities as well as the economic reasons behind dark patterns.

Blake, Thomas (Tom) et al. (2021)

Online vendors often employ drip-pricing strategies where mandatory fees are displayed at a later stage in the purchase process than base prices. In this article. the researchers discovered after thorough analysis that disclosing fees upfront reduces both the quantity and quality of purchases. At the same time, detailed click-stream data analysed by the authors show that price shrouding makes price comparisons difficult and results in consumers spending more than they would otherwise.

Bongard-Blachy Kerstin, et al. (2021)

Online services pervasively employ manipulative designs (i.e., dark patterns) to influence users to do different things. In this article, the researchers investigate whether users were aware of the presence of dark patterns and if so, their ability to resist them. The researchers discover however, that being aware does not equip users with the ability to oppose such influence. They further find that respondents, especially younger ones, often recognise the ”darkness” of certain designs, but remain unsure of the actual harm they may suffer. Finally, they discuss a set of interventions (e.g., bright patterns, design frictions, training games, applications to expedite legal enforcement) in the light of their findings.

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