Carnegie Mellon University
The Impact of Salient Privacy Information on Decision-Making.pdf (7.54 MB)

The Impact of Salient Privacy Information on Decision-Making

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posted on 2009-12-01, 00:00 authored by Janice Y. Tsai
People value their privacy; however, they typically do not make the protection of their privacy a priority. Privacy is oftentimes not tangible, complicating the efforts of technology users to express and act according to their privacy needs. Additionally, people may not be fully aware of the risks they are subjecting themselves to once they use the Internet for financial transactions, or create profiles on online social networks. Companies post privacy policies inform people about their informational practices; but, this information is extremely difficult to use and typically not considered in users’ decision-making processes. Privacy concerns have also had an impact on users’ adoption of new technologies that share personal information. A plethora of mobile location-finding technologies applications have become available over the last two decades, but the products and services offered by the technology developers may not comprehensively address the privacy implications and privacy concerns surrounding their use. The design considerations for these products may not provide the necessarily amount of control or risk mitigation for users to ensure that their location information is not misused. In this thesis, I focus on the impact of salient privacy information on privacy concerns and behavior in two contexts: online shopping and the use of a mobile-location sharing technology. I examine several case studies focusing on the evolution of privacy attitudes after people use specific technologies. Based on the examination of the use of a location-sharing system, I highlight several design considerations for mobile-location application developers to ensure they address their users privacy concerns. I use the results of online surveys and user studies to provide concrete information on the impact of feedback on the comfort with using location-sharing technology. This research shows that users will pay a premium to purchase from websites that offer better privacy policies IF that privacy information is made visible and understandable. This research points to the importance of control in the management of privacy concerns. Whether it be mandated by legislation, or recommended in industry standards or design standards, offering users control in the form of understandable privacy policy information, or control over the disclosure of personal information by technology, is essential.




Degree Type

  • Dissertation


  • Engineering and Public Policy

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Lorrie F. Cranor,Alessandro Acquisti,Baruch Fischhoff,Jason Hong,Peter Swire