Determinants of online safety behaviour: Towards an intervention strategy for college students

Jan Boehmer, Robert LaRose, Nora Rifon, Saleem Alhabash, Shelia Cotten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


How can young adults be motivated to enact security precautions? Communication about the risks of Internet use or online safety communication is a context in which personal responsibility is especially salient. The present research builds on Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) to examine the role of a previously unexplored variable, personal responsibility, in the protective behaviour of college students. Two studies are reported here. In the first (N = 565), the relationship of personal responsibility to safe (i.e. protective) online behaviour is tested in relationship to standard PMT variables. A multiple regression analysis of survey data shows that personal responsibility explained additional variance in protective behaviour after accounting for the effects of traditional threat and coping appraisal variables. Building on this, the second study (N = 206) examines the possibility of influencing personal responsibility through an intervention and experimental manipulation among college students. The experimental manipulation of personal responsibility found evidence of a causal relationship between personal responsibility and protective behaviour in the college student sample. Interactions with pre-existing levels of safety involvement and self-efficacy were uncovered. Based on the results, strategies for targeted online safety interventions are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1035
Number of pages14
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 3 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Human-Computer Interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Determinants of online safety behaviour: Towards an intervention strategy for college students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this