Online Privacy Behavior Laboratory Study


The study of online privacy behaviour is a relatively new field, which suffers from a lack of empirical studies and needs to be examined in greater depth. This project will identify the transmission of various online behaviours among participants in a laboratory based study.  In order to participate in this study, students must be resident within the New York Metro area and/or be capable of contributing a weekend (Friday afternoon and Saturday) on-site at Pace to set up and administer a laboratory study. For the purpose of this project, we will examine transmission of behavior within Retail Sites, Career Networking Sites, Social Networking Sites and Healthcare information sites.


Create test environments in Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a Healthcare site through which online users can make choices about personal information disclosure. Construct multiple scenarios in which users make decisions about personal information disclosure among the above sites.

Lab Study

Create social networking, job searching, and retail shopping contexts. Ask a similar set of users to disclose information in the environments.

Create a laboratory environment in which a group of study participants can perform various tasks related to personal information disclosure within the contexts identified above. These contexts may consist of communication and transaction processes for the above sites.

Recruit a group of participants to take part in a one day online privacy laboratory study.

  • Using a range of recruiting techniques to be devised in conjunction with the project client, recruit a demographically representative group of volunteers for the study.
  • Some examples of recruitment strategies are a broadcast email to Pace students and faculty, recruitment within the workplaces of project members and recruitment from friends and family of project members.

Create Personal Information Disclosure Scenarios

  • In conjunction with the project client, devise a series of personal information disclosure scenarios for each online environment.
  • Some examples of personal information disclosure scenarios are personal details during the registration process, types of information posted online, shopping habits, accepting friend requests and handling borderline or inappropriate behaviour by friends in social networking sites.

Create a Project Study Plan

  • In lieu of creating a technical manual for this project, create a five page laboratory project study plan detailing the study plan, recruitment plan and information disclosure tasks. This project study plan should be complete by February 15.

Set up the Laboratory Environment

On the afternoon of Friday March 5 set up the laboratory environment for the study.

Execute the Study

  • In conjunction with the client, assist in the execution of the study plan on Saturday March 6, tabulate the results and provide a five page summary of the study results. This summary, combined with the above 5 page study plan, will become the final, 10 page study paper deliverable for the course.


  1. Naresh K. Malhorta, Sung S. Kim and James Agarwal “Internet Users’ Information Privacy Concerns (IUIPC): The Construct, the Scale, and a Casual Model” Information Systems Research, Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2004, pp. 336-355.
  2. Gross, Ralph, Alessandro Acquisti, and H. John Heinz III., "Information Revelation and Privacy in Online Social Networks", Proceedings of the 2005 ACM Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, pp. 71-80, Alexandria, Virginia, 2005
  3. I. Brown T. Zukowski, "Examining the influence of demographic factors on internet users' information privacy concerns", Proceedings of the 2007 annual research conference of the South African institute of computer scientists and information technologists on IT research in developing countries, pp. 197-204, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 2007
  4. Palen, Leysia and Dourish, Paul "Unpacking "Privacy" for a Networked World" CHI 2003, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA.
  5. Conti, Gregory and Sobiesk, Edward "An Honest Man has Nothing to Fear: User Perceptions on Web-based Information Disclosure", Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2007, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
  6. Strater, Katherine and Richter, Heather "Examining Privacy and Disclosure in a Social Networking Community", Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2007, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
  7. Andrew Boyd, Kaven Williams, Ron Chin, Scott Densten, Diana Diamond, Chris Morgenthaler “The Erosion of Personal Privacy within Social Media”, 2009 Garagano Research Day, Pace University, 2009.
  8. Andrew Boyd “A Conceptual Model for post-Social Networking Online Privacy Behaviours” Research Update, July 11, 2009.
  9.  Andrew Boyd, et al “Contextual Behavior in Online Environments”, Pace University, 2010.