A. Curley, D. Gordon , D. O'Sullivan 

Technological University Dublin (IRELAND)
Many users experience a phenomena when they are shopping on-line where they feel they are being pressured to either spend more money than they had intended, or to share more personal data than they wanted. In academic circles we use the term “Dark Patterns” to describe these deceptive practices, and categorize them as being within the discipline of User Experience (UX). As academics it is important to name phenomena, and to categorize them, so that we can discuss and analyze these issues. However, this particular topic is one that all users should be made aware of when interacting online, and therefore these ideas should be explained in a manner to ensure that the terminology does not prove to be a barrier to understanding these concepts.

To overcome the terminological barriers, this research proposes the use of a model of instructional design called Elaboration Theory, developed by Charles Reigeluth. Crucially this model proposes that when explaining a new concept, the last thing the instructor should do is mention the name of the concept, they should first explain the concept, and at the very end of an instructional session, say “And by the way, this concept is called…”. This model also contends that the instructor should explain the concept in simple terms first, and then continue to elaborate on that explanation throughout the teaching process (adhering to the notion of a Spiral Curriculum). It also suggests that the content should be summarized at each level of explanation, and analogies should be used to help clarify concepts.

Therefore, this research proposes the redevelopment of existing teaching content about Dark Patterns, where these patterns are retitled as “Online Shopping Tricks”, and the teaching content is redesigned to begin with a simple explanation of Dark Patterns and to elaborate with more complexity at a number of levels of explanation, and including summarizers and analogies at the end of each stage. This content will be subsequently piloted on a number of non-academic participants to determine whether or not this redesign process has been effective.