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Secrets and Likes: The Drive for Privacy and the Difficulty of Achieving It in the Digital Age

journal contribution
posted on 11.11.2021, 21:17 by Alessandro AcquistiAlessandro Acquisti, Laura Brandimarte, George LoewensteinGeorge Loewenstein
We review different streams of social science literature on privacy with the goal of understanding consumer privacy decision making and deriving implications for policy. We focus on psychological and economic factors influencing both consumers' desire and consumers' ability to protect their privacy, either through individual action or through the implementation of regulations applying to firms. Contrary to depictions of online sharing behaviors as careless, we show how consumers fundamentally care about online privacy, and present evidence of numerous actions they take to protect it. However, we also document how prohibitively difficult it is to attain desired, or even desirable, levels of privacy through individual action alone. The remaining instrument for privacy protection is policy intervention. However, again for both psychological and economic reasons, the collective impetus for adequate intervention is often countervailed by powerful interests that oppose it.


Publisher Statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Acquisti, A., Brandimarte, L., & Loewenstein, G. (2020). Secrets and likes: The drive for privacy and the difficulty of achieving it in the Digital age. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 30(4), 736–758, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.