Privacy Cynicism and its Role in Privacy Decision-Making

Iris van Ooijen*, Claire M. Segijn, Suzanna J. Opree

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


In the era of data-driven communication, managing one’s online privacy is a necessary, yet burdensome challenge. While individuals have concerns about firms’ data collection practices, they sometimes appear to disclose personal information for relatively small rewards. We demonstrate that privacy cynicism—an attitude toward privacy protection characterized by frustration, hopelessness, and disillusionment—explains this paradox by moderating the relationship between the appraisal of privacy threats and privacy coping behaviors on one side, and privacy protection behaviors on the other side. Results of a U.S. national survey (N = 993) show that privacy cynicism is negatively related to privacy protection behaviors and significantly moderates relationships of perceived vulnerability, response efficacy, disclosure benefits, and response costs on protection behaviors. Hence, this work has important implications for communication theory by extending existing models of privacy management behaviors, as well as for communication practice, by stressing the importance of creating awareness about privacy cynicism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2022

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© The Author(s) 2022.

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