Notice and consent have become the dominant standard in addressing online privacy, yet notice and consent may be immaterial to individuals' assessments about the appropriateness and inappropriateness of the information transmitted within a particular context. Therefore, while an increasing amount of social activity and commerce is performed online, consumers, organizations, and regulators struggle to address privacy expectations across a diverse set of activities. The proposed project's goal is to better understand privacy expectations across contexts online. The study will test the hypotheses that (a) individuals hold different privacy expectations based on the context of their online activity and (b) notice and consent varies in its effectiveness in addressing online privacy expectations across different contexts. Since addressing online privacy expectations is the goal of organizations and regulatory bodies, understanding how those values change in different contexts would help managers and regulators identify which contexts require different privacy protections.

The study empirically examines privacy norms across online contexts and the role of notice and consent within each context. The researcher will conduct a nationwide survey using factorial vignette methodology in which respondents answer questions based on a series of hypothetical vignettes.

The results of this study will identify privacy expectations and values across online contexts and explain the appropriate role of notice and consent policies in addressing online privacy expectations. As such, this study is responsive to pressing government needs and societal concerns around online privacy and has direct implications for researchers, business leaders, policy experts, and customers/users. Specifically, the results will inform government policy, self-regulation guidelines, and industry best practices by (1) identifying important online contexts with similar privacy expectations (e.g., shopping, banking, etc.), (2) prioritize the role of notice and consent in addressing privacy expectations within different contexts, and (3) identify the factors and their relative importance in developing privacy expectations for specific contexts online.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Linda Layne
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Catholic University of America
United States
Zip Code