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.

Why “notice and choice” approaches to privacy reduce our privacy

In a recently published article, we (Lemi Baruh and Mihaela Popescu) discuss the limitations of reliance on market mechanisms for privacy protection.

Self-management frameworks such as “notice or choice” are inherently biased towards 1) reducing the level of privacy enjoyed by the members of the society and 2) creating privacy inequities (i.e., privacy haves and have nots). In the article we also discuss an alternative way of approaching privacy protection in the age of big data analytics.

Here is the abstract:

This article looks at how the logic of big data analytics, which promotes an aura of unchallenged objectivity to the algorithmic analysis of quantitative data, preempts individuals’ ability to self-define and closes off any opportunity for those inferences to be challenged or resisted. We argue that the predominant privacy protection regimes based on the privacy self-management framework of “notice and choice” not only fail to protect individual privacy, but also underplay privacy as a collective good. To illustrate this claim, we discuss how two possible individual strategies—withdrawal from the market (avoidance) and complete reliance on market-provided privacy protections (assimilation)—may result in less privacy options available to the society at large. We conclude by discussing how acknowledging the collective dimension of privacy could provide more meaningful alternatives for privacy protection.

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.