Victim’s negative emotion processes in cybersecurity breach situations: a testimony of anger and fear-related emotion processes

Sanja Budimir, Johnny R.J. Fontaine, Antal Haans, Nicole Huijts, George Loukas, Etienne B. Roesch

Research output: Working paperPreprintAcademic

74 Downloads (Pure)


The numerous benefits of increased internet connection are accompanied by a growing number of cybersecurity breaches. The successful protection of users’ wellbeing and their security, premised on preventative training and effective care of victims, requires an understanding of their experiences. To map this landscape, we explored a spectrum of emotional experiences in cyber security breach situations from the victim’s perspective. Participants (N=130) were asked to describe a cybersecurity breach on an Internet of Things device, computer, smartphone, email, or social network account they experienced themselves or heard about from friends or the media. They were asked to report their personal or anticipated emotional experiences in that situation, based on Scherer’s Components Process Model (Scherer, 2001) of emotions and emotion regulation. Answers were qualitatively analyzed by coding them into categories of emotion process components within the GRID framework (Fontaine et al., 2013) and for emotion regulation within the Conceptual Integration Model (Connor-Smith & Flachsbart, 2007). The most frequently reported emotion processes in cybersecurity breach situations include: (i) the appraisals privacy intrusion, unknown and no control, (ii) the action tendencies intervention, defensive and attack, (iii) the expressions of high vocal energy, abrupt movement, eyes closed/tears, (iv) the bodily responses high autonomic arousal, distress, high temperature, (v) the subjective feelings fear, anger and anxiety and (vi) the emotion regulations instrumental support, relaxation and suppression. This profile of reactions is similar to the emotional experiences of victims of physical security breaches (e.g. burglary), but with specific characteristics of uncertainty, unknown consequences and absence of punishment.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSocial Science Research Network (SSRN)
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Victim’s negative emotion processes in cybersecurity breach situations: a testimony of anger and fear-related emotion processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this