The use of answering machines and caller ID to regulate home privacy

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6 Scopus citations


Residential telephone service can be conceptualized as a permeable boundary surrounding the home territory through which both desired and unwanted interactions can penetrate. Since the deployment of answering machines and caller ID, callees can screen calls to identify callers before answering. The screening capabilities of these technologies were hypothesized to afford privacy-regulating patterns of answering calls. The hypothesis was supported when undergraduates chose to answer hypothetical calls from desirable and undesirable callers identified using an answering machine or caller ID (Study 1). The subjective social distance of callers from callees was found to systematically influence callees' normative approval of screening and then not answering calls (Study 2). The results support the notions that people will regulate residential telephone interactions when given the technological means and that they will form new norms that govern use of these technologies to control privacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-670
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)


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