Manipulation by Design

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Human behaviour is affected by architecture, including how online user interfaces are designed. The purpose of this article is to provide insights into the regulation of behaviour modification by the design of choice architecture in light of the European Union data protection law (GDPR) and marketing law (UCPD). It has become popular to use the term ‘dark pattern’ (also ‘deceptive practices’) to describe such practices in online environments. The term provides a framework for identifying and discussing ‘problematic’ design practices, but the definitions and descriptions are not sufficient in themselves to draw the fine line between legitimate (lawful) persuasion and unlawful manipulation, which requires an inquiry into agency, self-determination, regulation and legal interpretation. The main contribution of this article is to place manipulative design, including ‘dark patterns’, within the framework of persuasion (marketing), technology (persuasive technology) and law (privacy and marketing).
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalElectronic Markets
Issue number1
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 20 February 2024.


  • Manipulation
  • Design
  • Dark patterns
  • Marketing
  • Privacy
  • Agency

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