Privacy and Security in the Brave New World: The Use of Multiple Mental Models
Susanne M. Furman, Mary F. Theofanos, Brian C. Stanton, Sandra S. Prettyman
We live in a world where the flow of electronic information and communication has become a ubiquitous part of our everyday life. While our lives are enhanced in many ways, we also experience a myriad of challenges especially to our priva-cy and security. Survey data shows that the majority of people are very con-cerned about privacy and security but that they dont always act in ways to pro-tect their privacy. Our goal was to explore how participants understand and expe-rience privacy and security as they engage in online activities. To that end we used a qualitative approach to understand users mental models of online privacy and security. The data from our 40 interviews show that users have multiple men-tal models that guide their understanding of and experience with privacy and se-curity. These mental models not only operate simultaneously but are rarely fully formed and often contradict each other.