The intersection of privacy concern and trust: Beliefs of privacy orientation groups

Nancy Lee Duda, University of Pennsylvania


Through the lowering of search costs, the Internet has expanded the range of price and product choices available to consumers. However, the difficulty in processing the greater supply of information raises a need for online recommendation or decision agents. Whether consumers will use these new online systems to their benefit will depend on their levels of privacy concern. Westin has identified three groups in the public differentiated by the level of privacy concern: Fundamentalists, Pragmatists and Unconcerned. Scholars suggest that privacy risk perceptions may be countered by the development of trust. Drawing upon a cognitive account of trust, trust is defined as party A's confidence that party B will perform act X that is beneficial to party A, despite the risk that B might fail to do so, resulting in a harmful outcome for A. Perceived trustworthiness is based on competence and integrity. Given that privacy orientation is related to privacy concern and empirical research has established a negative correlation with trust, it is hypothesized that the groups will differ in their perceptions of trust concerning the company. Alumni of a large Midwestern university were mailed invitations to test an online retirement advice agent. Their privacy and trust beliefs regarding the company were subsequently measured with a survey instrument. Results indicate that privacy orientation was not related to any of the trust beliefs concerning the company. The failure to confirm this relationship undermines the nomological validity of the Westin privacy index. The open-ended responses revealed consumer frustration with the volume of unsolicited mail, awareness of the highly sensitive nature of financial information and distrust of the Internet environment.

Subject Area

Mass media

Recommended Citation

Duda, Nancy Lee, "The intersection of privacy concern and trust: Beliefs of privacy orientation groups" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3152029.