Illusive Design Pattern


Auto-playing videos, countdowns and recommendations all contribute to the never-ending vortex.


Enable habit-forming addictions for engagement.


  • Users feel that they are sucked into a never-ending time-consuming vortex of content and notifications generated by recommendation algorithms.
  • Anxiety through interacting with algorithm because of recommendations.
  • Videos highlighting the most stressful, out of context moments with context switching.
  • Algorithms that intimidate the user by showing content that is too advanced for their ability.

Post-AI Altruheuristics

  • Algorithmic Bias
  • Salience Bias
  • Negativity Bias
  • Anchoring Bias
  • Hyperbolic Discounting
  • FOMO
  • Loss Aversion
  • Survivorship Bias
  • Availability Bias
  • Dopamine: Constant overstimulation of the brain leads to increased pain afterwards, loss of motivation and resilience.
  • Anxiety: Most popular or trending tend to be the most outrageous.
  • Stress: Outrageous content can contain violence or negative news.
  • Comparison: Manufactured highlight reels leads to low esteem.
  • Habits: Constantly checking phone or impulsively scrolling becomes habitual due to addiction.
  • Gratification: Instant rewards leads to impulsivity due to dopamine.
  • Compassion: Outrageous content in the minority leads to a lack of compassion.
  • Flow: Easy to access if meaningful things get hard.
  • Values and Boundaries: The recommendation algorithm is only concerned with trending, most engagement, outrageous content.
  • Escapism: Easy to access due to the reward pathway.
CBT Distortions
  • Jumping to Conclusions e.g. (availability bias) These events feel like they’re happening everywhere.
  • Overgeneralization e.g. What’s wrong with people?
  • Mental Filtering: e.g. (negativity bias) The world is bad.
  • Always Being Right: e.g. Arguing online.
Circ's Principles
  • Balance: Always think about keeping the user in allostasis.
  • Esteem: Respect the values & boundaries or the user.
  • Transparency: Reduce anxiety by removing uncertainty and explaining algorithm updates.
  • Expectations: Reduce stress by providing control and reassurance of outcome.
Mental Health
  • Depression: Avoid comparison, highlight reels and distorted realities.
  • Chronic Stress: Avoid repetitive stimulation using outrage.
  • Chronic Anxiety: Avoid the state of uncertainty and provide reassurance.
  • ADHD: Avoid impulsive habit forming interactions and context switching.

Pre-AI Heuristics

Dark Patterns




Graphic Design
  • Proximity: More content generated with infinite scrolling.
Don Norman Principles
  • Constraints: There are no constraints on time usage. Studies suggest that mental health declines after more than 2 hours of usage.
Jakob Nielson Principles