CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

Gurvirender Tejay

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Abstract

The privacy paradox is a phenomenon whereby individuals continue to disclose their personal information, contrary to their claim of concerns for the privacy of their personal information. This study investigated the privacy paradox to better understand individuals' decisions to disclose or withhold their personal information. The study argued that individuals’ decisions are based on a cognitive disposition, which involves both rational and emotional mental processes. While the extended privacy calculus model was used as the theoretical basis for the study, the findings of cognitive neuroscience was applied to it to address its limitation in assuming individuals are purely rational decision-makers. Three within-subjects experiments were conducted whereby each subject participated in all three experiments as if it were one. Experiment 1 captured the neural correlates of mental processes involved in privacy-related decisions, while experiment 2 and 3 were factorial-design experiments used for testing the relationship of neural correlates in predicting privacy concerns and personal information disclosure. The findings of this study indicated that at least one neural correlate of every mental process involved in privacy-related decisions significantly influenced personal information disclosure, except for uncertainty. However, there were no significant relationships between mental processes and privacy concerns, except Brodmann’s Area 13, a neural correlate of distrust. This relationship, however, had a positive relationship with privacy concerns, opposite to what was hypothesized. Furthermore, interaction effects indicated that individuals put more emphasis on negative perceptions in privacy-related situations. This study contributed to the information privacy field by supporting the argument that individuals’ privacy-related decisions are both rational and emotional. Specifically, the privacy paradox cannot be explained through solely rational cost-benefit analysis or through an examination of individuals’ emotions alone.

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