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The Multiple Dimensions of Privacy: Testing Lay 'Expectations of Privacy'


Jeremy A. Blumenthal


Syracuse University - College of Law

Meera Adya


Syracuse University

Jacqueline Mogle


Syracuse University

July 2007

University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 11, 2009

Abstract:     
Forty years of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has explicitly relied on gauging "expectations of privacy" in helping to evaluate whether a search was reasonable. In making such evaluations, Courts look at a defendant's subjective expectation of privacy, as well as society's more objective understandings of social custom and of what might reasonably constitute an inappropriate interference in that privacy. Surprisingly little empirical research, however, has examined such perceptions of privacy, and most considers "privacy" a unitary, unidimensional construct.

In a pilot study here, we take a different approach to empirical assessing individuals' understandings and expectations of "privacy." To examine what factors enter into lay understandings of privacy, we used multidimensional scaling (MDS), a methodology explicitly designed to help identify underlying factors or dimensions that constitute broader variables, rather than focusing on ranking stimuli along a variable selected a priori. We empirically demonstrate the multidimensional nature of privacy, identifying three dimensions that constitute lay perceptions. Further, we show that both these dimensions, as well as overall perceptions of different types of law enforcement searches, are influenced by stimulus context.

Our findings make multiple contributions. First, we demonstrate the usefulness of another empirical methodology. Second, we discuss ways in which the dimensions we identify might influence Fourth Amendment doctrine. Third, we discuss our own ongoing research, and identify additional areas suggested by the current findings.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 56

Keywords: criminal procedure, search and seizure, Fourth Amendment, multidimensional scaling, lay perceptions, law and psychology, methodology

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Date posted: July 7, 2007 ; Last revised: November 2, 2008

Suggested Citation

Blumenthal, Jeremy A. and Adya, Meera and Mogle, Jacqueline, The Multiple Dimensions of Privacy: Testing Lay 'Expectations of Privacy' (July 2007). University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 11, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=998623

Contact Information

Jeremy A. Blumenthal (Contact Author)
Syracuse University - College of Law ( email )
Syracuse, NY 13244-1030
United States
315-443-2083 (Phone)
315-443-5394 (Fax)
Meera Adya
Syracuse University ( email )
900 S. Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2130
United States
Jacqueline Mogle
Syracuse University ( email )
900 S. Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2130
United States
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