Private or not? The categorical differences in mobile users’ privacy decision-making

Jie Gu, Jing Tian, Yunjie Calvin Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Privacy invasion caused by mobile apps is a serious threat to the sustainable development of the digital ecosystem. Despite the richness of mobile privacy research, the uniformed, rationality-based privacy model commonly employed in prior studies cannot fully explain users’ privacy decisions. Do users think of privacy differently when installing hedonic apps versus utilitarian apps? To answer the question, this paper examines different modes of privacy decision-making contingent on app categories. With a factorial experiment and two post hoc studies, we find that for utilitarian apps, users perform extensive and in-depth processing of both the obvious privacy cue and the subtle privacy cue. Users’ intention to install utilitarian apps is a tradeoff between privacy concerns and perceived app value. For hedonic apps, however, users deliberate on the obvious privacy cue but not the subtle cue. Users place little weight on privacy concerns and mainly consider perceived app value when deciding on hedonic apps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101122
JournalElectronic Commerce Research and Applications
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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