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Tracing the origins of manipulation: modeling the enablers behind dark patterns usage in e-commerce through TISM and MICMAC analysis

Vibhav Singh (Department of Management and Humanities, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Lucknow, India)
Niraj Kumar Vishvakarma (Department of Management and Humanities, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Lucknow, India)
Vinod Kumar (Digital Platform and Strategies, MICA, Ahmedabad, India)

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication

ISSN: 2514-9342

Article publication date: 17 April 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

E-commerce companies often manipulate customer decisions through dark patterns to meet their interests. Therefore, this study aims to identify, model and rank the enablers behind dark patterns usage in e-commerce companies.

Design/methodology/approach

Dark pattern enablers were identified from existing literature and validated by industry experts. Total interpretive structural modeling (TISM) was used to model the enablers. In addition, “matriced impacts croisés multiplication appliquée á un classement” (MICMAC) analysis categorized and ranked the enablers into four groups.

Findings

Partial human command over cognitive biases, fighting market competition and partial human command over emotional triggers were ranked as the most influential enablers of dark patterns in e-commerce companies. At the same time, meeting long-term economic goals was identified as the most challenging enabler of dark patterns, which has the lowest dependency and impact over the other enablers.

Research limitations/implications

TISM results are reliant on the opinion of industry experts. Therefore, alternative statistical approaches could be used for validation.

Practical implications

The insights of this study could be used by business managers to eliminate dark patterns from their platforms and meet the motivations of the enablers of dark patterns with alternate strategies. Furthermore, this research would aid legal agencies and online communities in developing methods to combat dark patterns.

Originality/value

Although a few studies have developed taxonomies and classified dark patterns, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, no study has identified the enablers behind the use of dark patterns by e-commerce organizations. The study further models the enablers and explains the mutual relationships.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Statements and declarations.

Disclosure statement/conflict of interest: The authors have no financial or personal stake in the study’s findings. The authors have no financial or personal stake in the study being suppressed.

Statement of funding: No financial support was received from anyone for this research.

Citation

Singh, V., Vishvakarma, N.K. and Kumar, V. (2024), "Tracing the origins of manipulation: modeling the enablers behind dark patterns usage in e-commerce through TISM and MICMAC analysis", Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/GKMC-10-2023-0386

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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