Designing for privacy: Exploring the influence of affect and individual characteristics on users' interactions with privacy policies

Agnieszka Kitkowska*, Yefim Shulman, Leonardo A. Martucci, Erik Wästlund

*Corresponding author for this work

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Consenting to digital services' privacy policies is standard practice. It often occurs at the early stage of interactions with a given service—during the sign-up process. Still, the most common way of acquiring consent from users is through their acknowledgment of policies by ticking a box. Consequently, users consent, mostly blindly, as they are unlikely to review the full text of policies. The current article presents research investigating factors that may impact user interaction with privacy policies, focusing on the underresearched topic of affective states (valence and arousal). The results of an online experiment (N=88) indicate that privacy policy design can elicit specific affective responses and, when accounting for some characteristics of individuals (e.g., personality traits), it can influence users' attitudes and behaviors. Particularly, the findings show that privacy awareness and willingness to disclose information might be impacted. Additionally, the analysis of collected data suggests significant associations between some personality traits and affective states, as well as a strong relationship between privacy concerns and willingness to disclose information, contradicting the concept of privacy paradox, often discussed in the privacy literature. Moreover, the results of our qualitative inquiry, where the study respondents had a chance to elaborate on their decisions to agree or disagree with the privacy policy by answering an open-ended question, confirm the quantitative findings, and reveal some of the users needs considering the sign-up process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103468
JournalComputers and Security
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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