Format vs. Content: The Impact of Risk and Presentation on Disclosure Decisions


Sonam Samat and Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon University


Although the importance of format and presentation of privacy notices has been extensively studied in the privacy literature, less explored is the interplay of presentation and content in influencing users' disclosure decisions. In two experiments, we manipulate the content as well as the format of privacy notices shown to participants who were asked to choose whether they would like to disclose personal information. We manipulate content by changing the objective privacy risk that participants face from disclosing personal information. We manipulate format by changing the manner in which these notices are presented. We find that participants are significantly less likely to share their personal information when the privacy notice is presented under a 'Prohibit [disclosure]' frame, as compared to an 'Allow [disclosure]' frame. However, and importantly, we find that the effect of changes in framing on disclosure decisions is small when the objective privacy risk from disclosure is low, but the effect of framing becomes larger when the risk is increased—that is, for potentially more sensitive decisions. Our results highlight the nuanced interaction effects between the objective content of privacy notices and the manner in which they are presented, on disclosure behavior.

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@inproceedings {205150,
author = {Sonam Samat and Alessandro Acquisti},
title = {Format vs. Content: The Impact of Risk and Presentation on Disclosure Decisions},
booktitle = {Thirteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2017)},
year = {2017},
isbn = {978-1-931971-39-3},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
pages = {377--384},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul

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