Social status and the demand for security and privacy

Jens Grossklags, Nigel J. Barradale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


High-status decision makers are often in a position to make choices with security and privacy relevance not only for themselves but also for groups, or even society at-large. For example, decisions about security technology investments, anti-terrorism activities, and domestic security, broadly shape the balance between security and privacy. However, it is unclear to what extent the mass of individuals share the same concerns as high-status individuals. In particular, it is unexplored in the academic literature whether an individual's status position shapes one's security and privacy concerns. The method of investigation used is experimental, with 146 subjects interacting in high- or low-status assignments and the subsequent change in the demand for security and privacy being related to status assignment with a significant t-statistic up to 2.9, depending on the specification. We find that a high-status assignment significantly increases security concerns. This effect is observable for two predefined sub-dimensions of security (i.e., personal and societal concerns) as well as for the composite measure. We find only weak support for an increase in the demand for privacy with a low-status manipulation. We complement these results with a second experiment on individuals' time preferences with 120 participants. We show that the high-status manipulation is correlated with increased patience, i.e., those individuals exhibit more robust long-term appreciation of decisions. Given that many security and privacy decisions have long-term implications and delayed consequences, our results suggest that high-status decision makers are less likely to procrastinate on important security investments, and are more likely to account for future risks appropriately. The opposite applies to privacy and low-status roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrivacy Enhancing Technologies - 14th International Symposium, PETS 2014, Proceedings
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9783319085050
StatePublished - 2014
Event14th International Symposium on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, PETS 2014 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: Jul 16 2014Jul 18 2014

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume8555 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other14th International Symposium on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, PETS 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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