The Effect of Design Patterns on (Present and Future) Cookie Consent Decisions


Nataliia Bielova, Inria research centre at Université Côte d'Azur; Laura Litvine and Anysia Nguyen, Behavioural Insights Team (BIT); Mariam Chammat, Interministerial Directorate for Public Transformation (DITP); Vincent Toubiana, Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL); Estelle Hary, RMIT University


Today most websites in the EU present users with a consent banner asking about the use of cookies or other tracking technologies. Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) need to ensure that users can express their true preferences when faced with these banners, while simultaneously satisfying the EU GDPR requirements. To address the needs of the French DPA, we conducted an online experiment among 3,947 participants in France exploring the impact of six different consent banner designs on the outcome of users' consent decision. We also assessed participants' knowledge and privacy preferences, as well as satisfaction with the banners. In contrast with previous results, we found that a "bright pattern" that highlights the decline option has a substantial effect on users' decisions. We also find that two new designs based on behavioral levers have the strongest effect on the outcome of the consent decision, and participants' satisfaction with the banners. Finally, our study provides novel evidence that the effect of design persists in a short time frame: designs can significantly affect users' future choices, even when faced with neutral banners.

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