The myth of the average user: Improving privacy and security systems through individualization

Serge Egelman, Eyal Peer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

62 Scopus citations


While individual differences in decision-making have been examined within the social sciences for several decades, they have only recently begun to be applied by computer scientists to examine privacy and security attitudes (and ultimately behaviors). Specifically, several researchers have shown how different online privacy decisions are correlated with the"Big Five"personality traits. In this paper, we show that the five factor model is actually a weak predictor of privacy attitudes, and that other well-studied individual differences in the psychology literature are much stronger predictors. Based on this result, we introduce the new paradigm of psychographic targeting of privacy and security mitiga- tions: we believe that the next frontier in privacy and security research will be to tailor mitigations to users' individual differences. We explore the extensive work on choice architecture and "nudges," and discuss the possible ways it could be leveraged to improve security outcomes by personalizing privacy and security mitigations to specific user traits.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationNSPW 2015 - Proceedings of the 2015 New Security Paradigms Workshop
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450337540
StatePublished - 8 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventNew Security Paradigms Workshop, NSPW 2015 - Twente, Netherlands
Duration: 8 Sep 201511 Sep 2015

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


ConferenceNew Security Paradigms Workshop, NSPW 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 ACM.


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