Risk Judgments and online privacy.

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



This study examined how individuals’ judgments on risks related to online privacy (online privacy risks) were influenced by communication processes, prior experience, and self-efficacy beliefs. The results based on telephone survey data (n=914) of a national probability sample supported our predictions that 1) individuals distinguished two separate dimensions of risk judgments (social vs. personal level) when they evaluated online privacy risks, and 2) mass and interpersonal communication, prior experience, and self-efficacy factors were distinctively associated with the two separate levels of risk judgments. More specifically, 1) mass media effect was “impersonal,” affecting people’s perceptions of the prevalence of certain risks within a given “society,” but not necessarily altering their beliefs about personal-level risks, 2) interpersonal communication and prior experience had personal-level impacts affecting perceptions of risk to oneself, and 3) self-efficacy strongly influenced societal-level risk judgments. The findings suggest that an understanding of social contexts and psychological processes is very important to better comprehend the nature of public perception concerning online privacy.


online privacy, Impersonal impact hypothesis, optimistic bias, risk judgments


Business and Corporate Communications | Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics

Research Areas

Corporate Communication


Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention

City or Country

Washington D.C., USA

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