Dark patterns used by online travel agency websites

Woo Gon Kim, Souji Gopalakrishna Pillai, Kavitha Haldorai, Wasim Ahmad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The “Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction” Act is legislation that was introduced by U.S. senators, and it deals with digital companies' unethical dark pattern practices. Recent findings show that consumers are cheated out of almost $6 billion annually by online travel agency booking scams, where dark patterns influence 45% of customers (American Hotel and Lodging Association, 2018). This deceptive practice is coined dark pattern by Harry Brignull (Brignull, 2013). Dark patterns are user interfaces that trick online consumers to perform unintended purchase actions by exploiting consumers' cognitive biases (Waldman, 2020). Cognitive biases are mental shortcuts and tendencies; they cause distortions in perception, interpretation, and judgment, thereby leading to systematic deviations from rational decision-making (Kahneman, 1973; Kahneman, 2011). The purpose of this research note is to shed light on how the various types of dark patterns found in online travel agencies' websites influence the cognitive biases that lead to irrational decision-making. This paper serves as a pebble in creating a comprehensive link between cognitive psychology and tourism consumer behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103055
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Tourism Research
Early online date1 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021


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