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“Now that you mention it”: A survey experiment on information, inattention and online privacy

Helia Marreiros (), Mirco Tonin, Michael Vlassopoulos () and M.C. Schraefel

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2017, vol. 140, issue C, 1-17

Abstract: Personal data lie at the forefront of different business models and constitute the main source of revenue of several online companies. In many cases, consumers may have incomplete information or may be inattentive about the digital transactions of their data. This paper investigates whether highlighting positive or negative aspects of online privacy policies, thereby mitigating the informational problem, can affect consumers’ privacy actions and attitudes. Results of an online survey experiment indicate that participants adopt a more conservative stance on disclosing sensitive and identifiable information, even when positive attitudes of companies towards their privacy are made salient, compared to when privacy is not mentioned. On the other hand, they do not change their attitudes and social actions towards privacy. These findings suggest that privacy behavior is not necessarily sensitive to exposure to objective threats or benefits of disclosing personal information. Rather, people are inattentive and their dormant privacy concerns may manifest only when consumers are asked to think about privacy.

Keywords: Survey experiment; Information economics; Privacy; Inattention; Salience; Self-disclosure; Consumer behavior (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C83 L38 M38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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