Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Sandra Carpenter

Committee Member

Aurora Torres

Committee Member

Jeffrey Neuschatz

Subject(s)

Risk perception., Technology--Social aspects., Cyber intelligence (Computer security)

Abstract

Cybersecurity research has indicated that people use simple heuristics to assess online privacy risk. Online warnings typically operate by encouraging systematic risk processing. A review of the literature on risk perception suggested that negative emotional affect produced by risk descriptions can both increase systematic processing and independently increase perceived risk. A review of fear appeals in health behavior research suggested that risk communications that produce fear will be rejected if an effective behavioral response recommendation is not provided. This study investigated the (a) impact of emotional vividness in warning descriptions and (b) response information presence on disclosure of a single piece of identity information in an online context. No effect was found of consequence vividness on disclosure. Predicted relationships between affect, processing, and perceived risk were found, suggesting that the vividness manipulation was ineffective. Warnings containing a recommended response displayed significantly lower disclosure than those without response information.

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