Choice Architecture, Framing, and Cascaded Privacy Choices
49 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2017
Date Written: April 14, 2016
For consumers, managing privacy online is a continuous, complex process of interrelated choices. Increasingly, this process may be conceived of as “cascaded,” in that a combination of upstream and downstream choices together determine some ultimate privacy outcome and its associated benefits and costs. For example, on social networks, individuals select profile visibility settings (an upstream choice) and then, given those settings, decide what information to post (a series of downstream choices). In combination, upstream and downstream choices determine consumers’ privacy risks and trade-offs. In a series of experiments, we investigate how changes in consumer choice architecture (specifically, choice frames) implemented by service providers can influence consumers’ upstream privacy choices (specifically, their choices of “disclosure settings”), and whether those upstream effects are “mitigated” through changes in levels of downstream self-disclosure after consumers are steered towards choosing riskier or safer upstream disclosure settings. We find, first, that various manipulations of decision frames, common in privacy contexts, significantly impact participants’ upstream choice of disclosure settings. Second, we do not find evidence that the impact of choice architecture upstream is mitigated downstream: participants’ self-disclosure rates do not adjust or change across manipulations of decision frames that induced differences in protective disclosure settings upstream. Our results contribute to an emerging behavioral perspective on privacy decision making, and highlight the importance of accounting for the cascaded nature of privacy decision making in both policy and managerial settings.
Keywords: Choice Architecture, Privacy, Behavioral Economics, Policy
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