EAGER: Exploring Heuristics and Designing Interface Cues to Understand Revealing or Withholding of Private Information

Project: Research project

Project Details


In individual pursuits of personalized service and other functionalities, people disclose personal and private information by trusting certain online sites and services. Scholars often assume that such trust is based on a careful assessment of the benefits and risks of disclosing information online. This project departs from such an assumption and investigates the possibility that decision-making about online information disclosure is not systematic, but rather based on cognitive heuristics (or mental shortcuts) triggered by cues in the interaction context. The objective of this project is to identify positive and negative heuristics triggered by online interface cues that predict why users instinctively trust or distrust certain online systems.

Phase 1 involves exploratory interviews and a survey pertaining to privacy and security mishaps. Based on findings from these studies, the PIs design cues and related interface functionalities in Phase 2. Phase 3 features controlled experiments that empirically assess how interface cues trigger heuristics and what role they play in user trust and information disclosure.

The findings of this research can be transformational in advancing knowledge about the many paradoxes that confront researchers, such as the privacy paradox (users reveal more than they admit) and control paradox (provision of control to users makes them worry more, not less, about security). Design insights from this project can be propagated to a variety of contexts to trigger desired heuristics and promote secure and trustworthy computing. The enumeration of heuristics serves a media-literacy function by alerting users to common psychological biases that compromise the security of their information.

Effective start/end date10/1/149/30/17


  • National Science Foundation: $278,383.00


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