What is it about?

In this paper we use eye tracking technology and conversations with users to examine various opt-out constructs used on business-to-consumer (B2C) websites and to analyze their impact on the decision performance of users; that is, whether or not they made a decision that was contrary to their intended course of action. The study found: up to one in three users make errors in decision-making; there is a higher error rate for opt-out decisions that use negatively phrased language; users widely misinterpret what they are seeing; and failure to read the text results in wrong decisions, with some users erroneously construing un-ticked checkboxes as opt-in decisions.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show using complicated or unusual opt-out constructs may not necessarily achieve the desired result of increasing sales or subscriptions. Many users also indicated they would avoid such deceptive websites in favor of more honest and transparent ones. These findings might alert managers and developers who are tempted to use dark patterns that such an unethical strategy may backfire over time.

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This page is a summary of: Dissecting Optional Micro-Decisions in Online Transactions: Perceptions, Deceptions, and Errors, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, November 2022, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), DOI: 10.1145/3531005.
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