Replication: Effects of Media on the Mental Models of Technical Users


Khadija Baig, Elisa Kazan, Kalpana Hundlani, Sana Maqsood, and Sonia Chiasson, Carleton University


Media has been observed to influence users' mental models in several domains. It was recently demonstrated that fictional television and movies have a strong influence on non-technical end users' mental models of security. We extended this study to explore its effect on 23 participants with technical backgrounds, given that misconceptions amongst this group could have important organisational impacts or could influence other non-technical end users. Our qualitative analysis reveals that technical participants sourced their mental models from both their academic or professional lives and from different forms of media (like news, cinema, forums, and social media). They were capable of identifying unrealistic depictions of hacking in the provided video clips and most could offer simplistic explanations about why these were problematic. We found that they generally had more nuanced understanding of the issues than non-technical end users, but they were not immune to misinformation from mass media.

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@inproceedings {274425,
author = {Khadija Baig and Elisa Kazan and Kalpana Hundlani and Sana Maqsood and Sonia Chiasson},
title = {Replication: Effects of Media on the Mental Models of Technical Users},
booktitle = {Seventeenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security ({SOUPS} 2021)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-25-0},
pages = {119--138},
url = {},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = aug,

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