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An open door may tempt a saint: Examining situational and individual determinants of privacy-invading behavior


Digital life enables situations where people invade other’s privacy -- sometimes with harmful intentions but often also without such. Given negative effects on victims of privacy invasions, research has examined technical options to prevent privacy-invading behavior (PIB). However, little is known about the sociotechnical environment where PIB occurs. Therefore, our study N=95) examined possible situational (effort necessary to invade privacy) and individual determinants (e.g., personality) of PIB in a three-phase experiment. 1) Laboratory phase: participants were immersed into the scenario; 2) privacy-invasion-phase at home: automatically and covertly capturing participants’ PIB; 3) debriefing-phase at home: capturing whether participants admit PIB. Our results contribute to understanding the sociotechnical environment in which PIB occurs showing that most participants engaged in PIB, that the likelihood of PIB increased when it required less effort, that participants less likely admitted PIB for more sensitive information, and that individual characteristics affected whether participants admitted PIB. We discuss implications for privacy research and design.

Conference / Medium

Eighteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security

Date published


Date last modified

2023-05-23 10:32:30