User Choice Experience

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Full Title or Meme

Giving users control over the release of their personal information requires a User Experience that they are willing to tolerate.


While this topic focuses on the UX of choice as a part of Identity Management The wiki page User-centric Consent looks at the broader topic of minimizing the cognitive load on the user choice.

The Paradox of Choice

  • In his book The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less ISBN 0-06-000568-8 (2004-01-06) American psychologist Barry Schwartz makes the case that more choice may not be helpful in making a decision. The user should be given only sufficient choices that have interesting and different consequences, or he will become confused and may not be able to make any decision at all. See the Wikipedia entry for more discussion.


  • Opt-out versus Opt-in or will the option be accepted or not accepted by default?
    • It is well known that users are likely to leave checkboxes as they were if that speeds up the process. For example, both the Dutch and the Belgium driver's license show a check box for organ donation. The Dutch box is initially unchecked, the Belgian box is initially checked. The Dutch acceptance of organ donation is 27%, the Belgium acceptance in 98%. When people were asked to explain their choice, they typically were able to make a cogent Explanation of their "choice".[1]
  • In a Wired article (2021-11-24) Sandra Metz points out that user control provided by megaliths like FaceBook make a mockery of choice. Until there is effective legal penalties from bad behavior the choice provided by users will be deliberately obscure and hard for the user to understand.
    Empowering consumers by giving them a say is a noble goal that certainly has a lot of appeal. Yet, in the current data ecosystem, control is far less of a right than it is a responsibility—one that most of us are not equipped to take on. Even if our brains were to magically catch up with the rapidly changing technology landscape, protecting and managing one’s personal data would still be a full-time job.


  1. Justin Gregg, If Nietzsche were a Narwhal Little Brown (2022-08) ISBN 978-0316388061

Other Material