How WEIRD is Usable Privacy and Security Research?


Ayako A. Hasegawa and Daisuke Inoue, NICT; Mitsuaki Akiyama, NTT


In human factor fields such as human-computer interaction (HCI) and psychology, researchers have been concerned that participants mostly come from WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) countries. This WEIRD skew may hinder understanding of diverse populations and their cultural differences. The usable privacy and security (UPS) field has inherited many research methodologies from research on human factor fields. We conducted a literature review to understand the extent to which participant samples in UPS papers were from WEIRD countries and the characteristics of the methodologies and research topics in each user study recruiting Western or non-Western participants. We found that the skew toward WEIRD countries in UPS is greater than that in HCI. Geographic and linguistic barriers in the study methods and recruitment methods may cause researchers to conduct user studies locally. In addition, many papers did not report participant demographics, which could hinder the replication of the reported studies, leading to low reproducibility. To improve geographic diversity, we provide the suggestions including facilitate replication studies, address geographic and linguistic issues of study/recruitment methods, and facilitate research on the topics for non-WEIRD populations.

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