Privacy and technology: Folk definitions and perspectives

Michelle N. Kwasny, Kelly E. Caine, Wendy A. Rogers, Arthur D. Fisk

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In this paper we present preliminary results from a study of individual differences in privacy beliefs and relate folk definitions of privacy to extant privacy theory. Focus groups were conducted with younger and older adult participants who shared their individual definitions of privacy and engaged in a discussion of privacy across six scenarios. Taken together, Westin's and Altman's theories of privacy accounted for both younger and older adults' ideas about privacy; however, neither theory successfully accounted for findings across all age and gender groups. Whereas males tended to think of privacy in terms of personal needs and convenience, females focused more on privacy in terms of others, respecting privacy rights, and safety. Older adults tended to be more concerned with privacy of space than information privacy. Initial results suggest that designing for commonalities in privacy perceptions among group members is feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event28th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Florence, Italy
Duration: Apr 5 2008Apr 10 2008


Other28th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems


  • Age differences
  • Focus group methodology
  • Gender differences
  • Privacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

Cite this