Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Identity theft., Subliminal perception.
Studies have shown 87% of people in the United States can be uniquely identified by only their zip code, gender, and date of birth. These three personal identity elements are not typically considered sensitive information by the general public. The purpose of this study was to develop a method to stop individuals from disclosing personal information that they deem unimportant by using warning messages and subliminal signals to influence their decisions. Warnings have been studied rigorously in real-world situations, but little research has been conducted on warnings in an online context. The use of a subliminal signal with a supraliminal warning may help people comply with the warning message without habituating, and make safer decisions about disclosing personal identity information online. In the present experiment, we compared how warnings affected disclosure rates of personal identity elements when individuals attempted to apply online for an automobile insurance quote. We targeted three personal identity elements that people believe to be safe to disclose, zip code, gender, and date of birth. We also attempted to identify whether subliminal signals could be used to enhance the effectiveness of the supraliminal warning. Unfortunately, we were unable to measure the effectiveness of subliminal signals because of technical limitations of the implementation methods. We did not find that warnings were effective at reducing disclosure rates for any of the three personal identity elements. There were several factors which may have influenced participants' decision to disclose personal identity element.
Brown, Payton, "The effectiveness of warnings on personal identity disclosure" (2015). Theses. 162.