Summary of “How Dark Patterns Online Manipulate Shoppers”

Dark patterns are the often unseen web-design choices that trick users into handing over more time, money, or attention than they realize.
The research builds on the work of Harry Brignull, a London-based cognitive scientist who coined the term dark pattern in 2010, and the authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, whose work on “Nudges” explores how default options influence behavior.
Just over one in 10 websites contain at least one type of dark pattern, the Princeton research finds.
The most common dark pattern is scarcity bias: Put an item in your cart, and you’ll be served a message claiming “Only eight left in stock!” thereby urging you to buy immediately before the item is gone.
This theater of numbers is also key to the second most popular dark pattern: the flash sale.
The third most frequent pattern, “Social proof,” has to do with the pop-up messages displayed on the sidebar of some sites: “90 people have viewed this item!”; “Joanne from Florida just saved on a sweater!” The tactic harnesses the power of both bandwagon thinking and scarcity.
After analyzing the sites, researchers again found that the pop-ups come from random number generators and selections of stock messages.
That assurance that we can outwit the dark pattern is, naturally, a dark pattern of its own.

The orginal article.