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Optimising transparency in online contracts for economic innovation in the retail industry: Interdisciplinary research through legal analysis and empirical experiments on consumer behaviour

20th National Competition for Economic Research Grants (2021)

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Senior Researcher : María Natalia Mato Pacín

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.


The aim of the interdisciplinary research project is to analyse the online retail contracting process from the perspective of law, consumer psychology and marketing. By integrating legal and marketing perspectives, the goal is to propose optimal online contract designs in terms of cost-effectiveness and transparency so that retail companies simultaneously benefit from increased consumer trust and loyalty.

After a first year of the project, an online contracting process scheme is being finalised. It identifies the number of screens in the purchase transaction as well as the content of each screen that is legally required to comply with regulations. In this regard, the new features required by the Digital Services Law, in force since the end of November 2022 and which will be applicable in Spain in the coming years, are already being taken into account. The design of this "consumer itinerary or path" integrates traditional textual information with visual information, including icons, graphic elements or uniform formats, which favour the transmission of the message to the consumer in the different environments used for contracting (computer, telephone, Tablet). A distinction is also made between pre-contractual information that must be highlighted and secondary information that can be provided through hyperlinks.

On the other hand, the design techniques of web pages and computer applications that take advantage of Big Data and AI to influence consumer behaviour (known as "dark patterns") have been analysed. The patterns most commonly used in practice have been identified in order to study their real effectiveness, consumer response and, where appropriate, the legal mechanisms that would limit their implementation in the process of designing the online contracting model..


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles 4
Communications at national conferences -
Communications at international conferences 4


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