Do online privacy concerns predict privacy behavior?

In a new article, we (Lemi Baruh, Ekin Seçinti, Zeynep Cemalcılar) meta-analytically chime in on the frequently debated concept of “privacy paradox”.  We  investigate whether users’ reported privacy concerns and literacy influence the extent to which they utilize online services (including but not limited to SNSs), disclose personal information and adopt measures to protect their privacy. Privacy concerns did not predict SNS use; however, it was associated with lower disclosure of information, lower use of other types of online services (e.g., e-commerce), and higher tendency to engage in privacy protective measures.

Click here for access to the article.

Click here for access to additional information about the meta-analysis.

Cyberpsychology’s special issue on self-disclosure and privacy published

Privacy and disclosure special issue of Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace edited by Michel Walrave, Sonja Utz, Alexander P. Schouten, Wannes Heirman is now out and available for download (and hopefully for wide reading, discussing, citing).

Also included in the special issue is an article from SIMLAB (Murat Kezer, Barış Sevi, Zeynep Cemalcılar, and Lemi Baruh). The article compares three age groups  (18-40, 41-65, 65+) in terms of their tendency to self-disclose on Facebook, and their privacy attitudes, privacy literacy and use of privacy protective measures.

The study reports that young adults are more likely than other age groups to self-disclose on Facebook; yet, they are also the age group that is most likely to utilize privacy protective measures on Facebook. Furthermore, using a multidimensional approach to privacy attitude measurement, the study reports that while young adults are more likely to be concerned about their own privacy, mature adults tend to be more concerned about others’ privacy. Finally, the findings of the study suggest that the impact of privacy attitudes on privacy-protective behaviors is strongest among mature adults.

Here is the link to the full article.

We thank the editors of the special issue Michel Walrave, Sonja Utz, Alexander P. Schouten, Wannes Heirman for the opportunity.

Guidelines for the Use of New Media in Crisis Situations


The COntribution of Social Media In Crisis Management (COSMIC ), funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7, Grant agreement no: 312737) has now been completed.

The conclusion to our project comes with a set of guidelines for use of new media in emergencies.   The guidelines adopt “AID” principles to use of media technologies:

  • Acknowledging the fact that civil society can be trusted;
  • Increasing the ability of civil society to take responsibility for further guarding its own well-being;
  • Developing the capacities of public authorities for adapting to social media use by civil society.

Using these principles the guidelines provide a set of tools as well as “Tips and Tricks” for utilisation of new media by members of the public authorities, volunteer organisations, and citizens.

  • A copy of the most recent version of the guidelines are here
  • A short summary of Tips and Tricks for public authorities are here
  • A short summary of Tips and Tricks for citizens are hereCosmic Logo

Call for Feedbacks on “Guidelines for the use of new media by the public in crisis situations”

COSMIC project, funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), is waiting for your feedback on its recent “Guidelines for the use of new media by the public in crisis situations”.

The draft report provides guidelines that citizens may help in the optimal use of social media during crisis situations. Tips and tricks are formulated for the different roles that citizens can take during crises. Aim of the guidelines is to improve social media usage during crisis situations in order to make citizens more self-reliant and consequently increase their safety and security. Guidelines specially aimed at governmental authorities and private organizations are in preparation.

The guidelines can be viewed here.

We would like to invite practitioners in the field of crisis and emergency management, social media experts, (social) scientists and social media users to provide feedback on the first version of the guidelines. Feel free to provide your feedback on COSMIC LinkedIn page or below as a comment.

We appreciate your help!

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.