Study of User Response to Fake Dialogs

Ars reports on a study by the psychology department at NC State that will appear in the Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. The study tested how college students respond to fake dialog boxes in browser popup windows and found that the students are so anxious to get the dialog out of the way, they click right through obvious warning signs.

Follow-up questions revealed that the students seemed to find any dialog box a distraction from their assigned task; nearly half said that all they cared about was getting rid of these dialogs. The results suggest that a familiarity with Windows dialogs have bred a degree of contempt and that users simply don't care what the boxes say anymore.

The authors suggest that user training might help more people recognize the risks involved with fake popups and the diagnostic signs of genuine Windows dialogs, but the fact that the students didn't appear to spend any more time evaluating the fake dialogs raises questions as to whether education is enough.