Is This Acceptable ? How factors related to user experience can expand our understanding of the phenomenon of accepting privacy compromises

The protection of personal information is a hot topic in the media. Numerous cases of data theft or malicious use have made headlines, and the public is becoming more worried about it. However, what about issues where the individual offers his personal information’s himself unconsciously, without realizing the risks involved? Technology and its multiple services ubiquity in our daily life can lead consumers to take action without asking more questions.

Nevertheless, to use the services offered, several technologies will require, in exchange, for the consumer’s personal information. The problem is that this exchange is done consciously by the user, but sometimes not. So the user, filling in the information required to access his service, does not realize the impact of this information sharing.

Technology Acceptance (TA), which is the act to subscribe or not to a product, has been tested by many studies in the past. These studies have led to the creation of Technological Acceptance Models (TAM), defining this phenomenon as the judgment, attitude and behaviours generated by a product. These models focus on finding an explanation for a consumer’s adherence to a product, based on pragmatic factors such as the perception of the utility, the perception of ease of use, the social influence, and from the latest studies, on hedonic motivation, product value and habits (Venkatesh, Thong and Xu, 2012). On the other hand, User Experience (UX) is also an important component in TA analysis. The UX adds subjective notions to the principle of acceptance, such as the emotions generated by the product, the subjective value of the product and the temporal aspect of the UX.

This issue led the researchers, Verana Distler, Carine Lallemand and Vincent Koenig, to analyze TA and UX to explore and construct hypotheses about the additional dimensions that may play a role in acceptability confidentiality trade-offs.

To find dimensions that are not already used in existing MAT, the researchers used a qualitative approach by forming eight focus groups (N = 32) directing their research towards the psychological needs of the participants and the experience of negative emotion. More specifically, these focus groups consisted of 17 men and 15 women from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The exchanges between the participants concerned specific themes, presented in the form of scenarios, where the participants were asked to express their impressions of the situation. The various cases involved surveillance cameras at work, sharing personal health information, having smart thermostats in homes and signing up for free social media.

For each theme, the participants presented the advantages and disadvantages. The researchers brought together the main conclusions and ideas that frequently emerged during the discussions. In particular, what influenced participants’ decisions about joining the new technology depends on several factors, namely: perception of the utility, impact of past experiences, context, perception of control, autonomy and perceived pleasure. Overall, the results of the study showed that acceptance factors and EU factors, such as product usefulness and perceived ease of use, influenced participants’ opinions.

However, one crucial aspect emerges from the results. The notion of context is fundamental in the decision-making process of the participants. They will consider their past stories, location, time, and several other subjective factors before taking action. Concerning the theme of joining a free social media in exchange for targeted advertisements, participants expressed a form of resignation, justifying that ads are so ubiquitous in their lives that one more addition was not going to make a difference. This principle of privacy fatigue consists of the exhaustion and even the cynicism of consumers regarding the management of their privacy. This principle has been shown to have a strong influence on the behaviour of individuals (H. Choi , Park and Jung, 2018). Although the authors affirm the need for further studies on the subject, the study illustrates that only the pragmatic aspects are not enough when it comes to explaining the trade-offs in the protection of privacy. Elements of perception of control and autonomy are striking factors in terms of technology acceptance.

The impact of this article is significant in building theories of technological acceptance, as well as in the development of user-centric privacy initiatives.

To cite: Distler, V. Lallemand, C. Koenig, V. (2019), « How Acceptable Is This? How User Experience Factors Can Broaden our Understanding of The Acceptance of Privacy Trade-offs », Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 106.