CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Computing and Engineering


Ling Wang

Committee Member

Mary Harward

Committee Member

Sun Junping


cellular service providers, elaboration likelihood model, information sharing, personalization, privacy calculus paradox, privacy nudge


Companies that personalize their services based on users’ specific needs have increased sales and customer satisfaction. Personalization requires analyzing the user’s behavior and correlating the action with other pieces of information. The information available for cellular service providers has grown substantially as connectivity becomes ubiquitous. Customers are unknowingly sharing their locations, habits, activities, and preferences in real-time with their service providers. Although cellular service providers state that they share personal data with external entities in their publicly available privacy policies, users have limited control over who can access their personal information. Users have no, or suboptimal, control to manage their information sharing.

The limitation of this control includes a lack of flexibility to exclude specific times, events, or third-party entities that ends up receiving their data. Customers’ willingness to share their information with cellular service providers has not been examined to date. Therefore, this study used a custom mobile application to address the lack of control in sharing information with cellular service providers. The application generated nudges to allow for more informed privacy decisions by (a) increasing users’ awareness of the data shared with their cellular service providers and (b) providing users the option not to share their personal information if desired. The elaboration likelihood model (ELM), a dual-route, multi-process decision-making model, was utilized to develop a theoretical model to investigate the willingness to share personal data with cellular service providers. The factors that influence users’ attitudes and behaviors toward information sharing were explored.

The study findings suggest a negative influence of the awareness of the privacy practices taken by the cellular service providers on the intention to share personal information, proving that those who know how their data is collected and used are less inclined to share.

The study results revealed that the intention to share personal information positively influences the actual information sharing based on the responses to the privacy nudges, unlike the common belief that people only talk about the need to protect their data but eventually give it away when asked. This study suggests otherwise; those who want to protect their data will protect them if they were given a choice. This study concluded that using a mobile application that nudges users to accept or reject information sharing would reduce information sharing by 42%. A higher awareness of service providers’ privacy practices resulted in decreased sharing of personal information. This study highlighted the trade-off between information sharing and the benefits of personalization. Practical guidance on enhancing user privacy attitudes regarding sharing personal data with cellular service providers was discussed.