Do You Really Care about Your Information Privacy? An Empirical Investigation of Privacy Attitude-Behavior Paradox in Online Social Networking Sites

Project: Research

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Despite concerns of Internet users on online information privacy, they often do not liveup to their self-reported privacy concerns. They often engage in many paradoxicalprivacy-threatening behaviors (e.g., excessive self-disclosure of personal information,and overlooking of privacy practices and privacy-enhancing technologies). Thisinconsistency between privacy concerns of individuals and their own privacy-threateningbehaviors is called privacy attitude-behavior paradox. This project will explore thenature and dimensions of individuals’ privacy attitude-behavior gap and investigate theantecedents of their privacy-threatening behaviors. This project will be conducted in the specific context of online social networking sites(SNS). With half a billion active users of Facebook (a leading SNS in Hong Kong andworldwide) around the world who use it as a social, expressional, and entertainmentplatform, privacy leakages and violations have increasingly become a critical concern forSNS users. The existence of a privacy attitude-behavior gap will lead to illusory controlsand misperceptions of users about their own privacy behaviors in SNS, and ineffectiveprivacy practices, policies and privacy-enhancing technologies, which are often based onindividuals’ self-reported privacy concerns. Two subprojects are proposed herein. The first subproject is to explore the nature anddimensions of a privacy attitude-behavior gap. Although there are studies that havereported the presence of such a gap, few of those have comprehensively and theoreticallyinvestigated the nature and dimensions of this gap. By extending a well-establishedtaxonomy of information privacy concerns, I will identify specific dimensions of the gap.To validate these dimensions, a nomological model with three salient “Big FivePersonality Traits,” namely, extraversion, conscientiousness, and neuroticism, aspredictors of various dimensions of a privacy attitude-behavior gap will be developed. The second subproject will investigate the antecedents of privacy-threatening behaviorsfrom a bounded rationality perspective. Due to their limited processing capability, SNSusers often utilize simple and available cues and heuristics rather than conduct rationalassessment of all factors for or against all possible courses of privacy actions. Based onthis perspective, a set of antecedents will be identified and their effects on variousprivacy-threatening behaviors will be tested. This proposed research will fill a theoretical gap in a privacy attitude-behavior paradoxand help understand factors leading to privacy-threatening behaviors of SNS users. Theresults will address the emerging online privacy leakage and violation issues, and holdgreat implications for privacy policymakers and legislators, SNS practitioners, and users to protect their online information privacy. 


Project number9041718
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1223/12/15