Introducing a “multidimensional privacy attitudes scale”

As one of our first research project in SIMLAB (founded in late 2012), we (Lemi Baruh & Zeynep Cemalcılar) had been working on developing a multidimensional privacy orientation scale. The scale is summarised in an article published in November 2014 in Personality and Individual Differences.

The article reports that individuals’ decisions about level of privacy they need is determined not only by concern about themselves but also concern about privacy of other individuals:

  • There are four distinction dimensions of privacy:  (1) belief in the value of “privacy as a right”; (2) “other-contingent privacy”; (3) “concern about own informational privacy” and (4) “concern about privacy of others.”
  • A segmentation of users in terms of these four dimensions of privacy points to three distinct types of users: 1) privacy advocates,who are concerned about both their own and other people’s privacy; (2) privacy individualists, who are concerned mostly about their own privacy, and (3) privacy indifferents, whose score on all dimensions are lower than other segments.User segments are privacy advocates, privacy individualists, privacy indifferents.
  • Users who value others’ privacy are less likely to invade informational privacy.
  • Privacy individualists use social network sites for satisfying voyeuristic curiosity.
  • Reciprocating disclosure is more likely for privacy advocates than for individualists.

The multidimensional scale has 18 items, all measured using a 5-point likert scale (ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree):

Dimension 1: Privacy as a Right

  • Privacy laws should be strengthened to protect personal privacy.
  • People need legal protection against misuse of personal data.
  • If I were to write a constitution today, I would probably add privacy as a fundamental right.

Dimension 2: Concern about Own Informational Privacy

  • When I share the details of my personal life with somebody, I often worry that he/she will tell those details to other people.
  • I am concerned that people around me know too much about me.
  • I am concerned with the consequences of sharing identity information
  • I worry about sharing information with more people than I intend to.

Dimension 3: Other-Contingent Privacy

  • If somebody is not careful about protecting their own privacy, I cannot trust them about respecting mine.
  • If I am to enjoy some privacy in my life, I need my friends to be careful about protecting their privacy as well.
  • I could never trust someone as my confidant if they go around sharing details about their own private lives.
  • The level of privacy that I can enjoy depends on the extent to which people around me protect their own privacy.

Dimension 4: Concern about Privacy of Others

  • It is important for me to respect the privacy of individuals, even if they are not careful about protecting their own privacy.
  • I value other people’s privacy as much as I value mine
  • Even when somebody is not careful about his/her privacy, I do my best to respect that person’s privacy
  • I always do my best not to intrude into other people’s private lives
  • Respect for others’ privacy should be an important priority in social relations

Please feel free to use (and/or translate) scale. We would appreciate it greatly if you could notify us about an translation of the scale.

Citation information: 

Baruh, Lemi, and Zeynep Cemalcılar. 2014. “It Is More than Personal: Development and Validation of a Multidimensional Privacy Orientation Scale.” Personality and Individual Differences 70 (November). Elsevier Ltd: 165–70. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.06.042.