ACDPs interfere with users’ ability to achieve their goals, reducing their sense of control and autonomy, and leading to feelings of regret and dissatisfaction with their digital experiences. These factors can contribute to a range of negative outcomes, including decreased productivity, increased stress and anxiety, and a general sense of disconnection or disengagement from one’s digital life.

Lose Track of Goals for Use

ACDPs demand users’ attention and introduce frequent distractions, which can cause users to lose track of their goals. These patterns can either attract or divert attention, resulting in situations where users may be tricked into taking actions that are aligned with the stakeholders’ goals rather than their own.

Examples include catchy videos and animations in advertisements, as well as attention-grabbing and distracting content on social media newsfeeds. For instance, a typical newsfeed on Facebook contains eye-catching content that can tempt users to spend more time on the platform than they intended to, leading to a decrease in their productivity.

Lost Sense of Time and Control

Users may feel like they are wasting time and not actually engaging with content when they continuously press next or flip through stories. ACDPs negatively impact a user’s sense of agency or self-perception of being the initiator of their actions. These patterns may use coercive and deceptive strategies to present information in a way that reduces user autonomy of choice, leading to a low sense of agency over technology use.

For example, features like recommendations and autoplay on platforms like YouTube can undermine a user’s sense of agency and make them feel less in control because suggestions of new videos are typically “hard to decline.”

Sense of Regret

Users can feel dissatisfied with the time spent on a digital service or a specific interaction with it. This regret occurs when the rewards of a taken action are outweighed by the expected rewards of what could have happened alternatively. ACDPs increase the chances of using a digital service at times when users would not have otherwise, leading to regret when users spend more time than they planned.

Social media features like newsfeeds and stories quickly deplete content and cause regret, while recommendations-based features like Facebook’s Watch Videos can induce users to use the service “just a bit more,” promoting a behavioral cycle that leads to regret. The more time users spend on a website or mobile app, especially on social networks, the more likely they are to regret using it.