Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Computer Sciences

Publication Details

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Technological University Dublin for the degree of M.Sc. in Computer Science (Advanced Software Development), 2022.


Dark patterns are user interfaces purposefully designed to manipulate users into doing something they might not otherwise do for the benefit of an online service. This study investigates the impact of dark patterns on overall user experience and site revisitation in the context of airline websites. In order to assess potential dark pattern effects, two versions of the same airline website were compared: a dark version containing dark pattern elements and a bright version free of manipulative interfaces. User experience for both websites were assessed quantitatively through a survey containing a User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) and a System Usability Scale (SUS). Site revisitation i.e. users’ willingness to revisit a website was assessed qualitatively through semi-structured interviews. Dark pattern awareness was also investigated through the survey and interviews. For the UEQ, a significant difference was observed for Attractiveness. There was no significant difference observed for the rest of the scales, namely Perspicuity, Efficiency, Dependability Stimulation and Novelty. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the SUS scores of the two sites. Thus, dark pattern application was found to have no significant effect on overall user experience. Despite this, the bright website was found to have a higher rating for all scales of the UEQ as well as for the average SUS score compared to the dark website. The semi-structured interviews revealed that dark pattern also had no effect on site revisitation. Lastly, questions assessing dark pattern awareness revealed that the majority of participants were moderately aware of dark patterns despite not knowing the term.