Reciprocation: Why Login Walls Aren’t Always “Better"

Summary: The reciprocity principle states that people, when given something upfront, tend to feel a sense of obligation to repay what has been provided. Login walls reverse this sequence and require users to disclose personal info before allowing access to content. People often resent this, and may not be as forthcoming or cooperative as a result.

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The Reciprocity Principle: Give Before You Take in Web Design

Humans tend to return good deeds: use this social psychology law in user interface design to gain users’ trust and motivate engagement with your site or app.

Video Author

Therese Fessenden is a Senior User Experience Specialist with Nielsen Norman Group, host of the NN/g UX Podcast, and manager of the 1-Hour Talk program. Her research focuses on understanding human behaviors, attitudes, and expectations in order to better orchestrate system and service design strategies. 

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