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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Persuasion awareness in online settings: antecedents, consequences, and transparency mechanisms Tangwaragorn, Pattharin


With the continued growth of technologies, persuasion practices in online settings are on the rise. However, the use of technologies is a double-edged sword. Technologies can influence users without their awareness of being persuaded, making users more vulnerable to such influence. As technologies have been embedded throughout online platforms and provided more insights about their users, there is a major possibility of persuading users via technology design. Thus, the likelihood of being persuaded without awareness will increase. However, extant literature posits perceived persuasion beliefs can also promote careful evaluations and decisions (Friestad and Wright 1994). Despite its importance, persuasion awareness has received little attention in IS research. To this end, I attempt to address the following questions: What are the key features of persuasive design which influence online users’ persuasion awareness? How do persuasive design features affect users’ persuasion awareness and behavioral responses? What are the mechanisms which improve users’ persuasion awareness? To answer these questions, I propose a theoretical model of persuasion awareness in online settings and empirically investigate it in an e-commerce context in empirical study 1 and 2. Relying on the Decision Support System literature and Toulmin (2003), I identify two forms of persuasive design features (PDF)—suggestive and supportive—and analyze the suggestive form in terms of its content, mode, and invocation style. I apply the Persuasion Knowledge Model to outline how users perceive and respond to persuasion attempts triggered by online entities, and identify transparency mechanisms, specific ways in which entities can be designed to influence users’ persuasion awareness. An integrated model and a typology of PDF are discussed in Chapter 3. Study 1 (Chapter 4) reveals that suggestive content affects perceived persuasion and assistance beliefs, which, in turn, shape users’ responses. Also, only perceived persuasion increases careful evaluations of targeted products. Study 2 (Chapter 5) adds persuasion transparency information disclosing persuasion tactics online entities use. Results demonstrate that persuasion transparency enhances perceived persuasion and dampens perceived assistance. Thus, persuasion transparency improves users’ persuasion awareness. Overall, this thesis serves as an initial step toward understanding online persuasion awareness that promotes users’ informed evaluations and decisions.

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