Privacy cynicism: A new approach to the privacy paradox.

Hoffmann, C. P., Lutz, C., & Ranzini, G. (2016). Privacy cynicism: A new approach to the privacy paradox. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 10(4), article 7. DOI: 10.5817/CP2016-4-7

Privacy concerns among Internet users are consistently found to be high. At the same time, these concerns do not appear to generate a corresponding wave of privacy protection behavior. A number of studies have addressed the apparent divergence between users’ privacy concerns and behavior, with results varying according to context. Previous research has examined user trust, lack of risk awareness and the privacy calculus as potential solutions to the “privacy paradox”. Complementing these perspectives, we propose that some users faced with seemingly overwhelming privacy threats develop an attitude of “privacy cynicism”, leading to a resigned neglect of protection behavior. Privacy cynicism serves as a cognitive coping mechanism, allowing users to rationalize taking advantage of online services despite serious privacy concerns. We conduct an interdisciplinary literature review to define the core concept, then empirically substantiate it based on qualitative data collected among German Internet users.