Putting the privacy paradox to the test: Online privacy and security behaviors among users with technical knowledge, privacy awareness, and financial resources

Susanne Barth (Corresponding Author), Menno D.T. de Jong, Marianne Junger, Pieter H. Hartel, Janina C. Roppelt

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Abstract

Research shows that people's use of computers and mobile phones is often characterized by a privacy paradox: Their self-reported concerns about their online privacy appear to be in contradiction with their often careless online behaviors. Earlier research into the privacy paradox has a number of caveats. Most studies focus on intentions rather than behavior and the influence of technical knowledge, privacy awareness, and financial resources is not systematically ruled out. This study therefore tests the privacy paradox under extreme circumstances, focusing on actual behavior and eliminating the effects of a lack of technical knowledge, privacy awareness, and financial resources. We designed an experiment on the downloading and usage of a mobile phone app among technically savvy students, giving them sufficient money to buy a paid-for app. Results suggest that neither technical knowledge and privacy awareness nor financial considerations affect the paradoxical behavior observed in users in general. Technically-skilled and financially independent users risked potential privacy intrusions despite their awareness of potential risks. In their considerations for selecting and downloading an app, privacy aspects did not play a significant role; functionality, app design, and costs appeared to outweigh privacy concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalTelematics and informatics
Volume41
Early online date18 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

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Application programs
Mobile phones
Students
Costs
Experiments

Keywords

  • Apps
  • Mobile phones
  • Privacy intrusion
  • Privacy paradox
  • Privacy valuation

Cite this

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title = "Putting the privacy paradox to the test: Online privacy and security behaviors among users with technical knowledge, privacy awareness, and financial resources",
abstract = "Research shows that people's use of computers and mobile phones is often characterized by a privacy paradox: Their self-reported concerns about their online privacy appear to be in contradiction with their often careless online behaviors. Earlier research into the privacy paradox has a number of caveats. Most studies focus on intentions rather than behavior and the influence of technical knowledge, privacy awareness, and financial resources is not systematically ruled out. This study therefore tests the privacy paradox under extreme circumstances, focusing on actual behavior and eliminating the effects of a lack of technical knowledge, privacy awareness, and financial resources. We designed an experiment on the downloading and usage of a mobile phone app among technically savvy students, giving them sufficient money to buy a paid-for app. Results suggest that neither technical knowledge and privacy awareness nor financial considerations affect the paradoxical behavior observed in users in general. Technically-skilled and financially independent users risked potential privacy intrusions despite their awareness of potential risks. In their considerations for selecting and downloading an app, privacy aspects did not play a significant role; functionality, app design, and costs appeared to outweigh privacy concerns.",
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