Does the privacy paradox exist? Comment on Yu et al.’s (2020) meta-analysis

Abstract of publication: "Does the privacy paradox exist?"

I was excited when last year I saw that International Journal of Information Management (IJIM) published a meta analysis on the privacy paradox. Does the privacy paradox exist? The authors concluded that yes, the “‘privacy paradox’ phenomenon [. . . ] exists in our research model”.

I was surprised, because this finding contradicts another meta-analysis by Baruh et al. (2017), which found significant relations between privacy concerns and information sharing. Also in my own research, I regularly find significant (though often small) effects (for example in this study).

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Are people nowadays more happy?

Woman smiling

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post on how happiness developed in Europe between 2002 and 2016. Using data from the European Social Survey, I analyzed self-reported levels of happiness, Internet use, social behavior, or health.

For a review I’m currently writing, I now updated these analyses with the (somewhat) new data for 2018 (2020 isn’t available yet). Overall, the data now include the responses of 430.870 (!) respondents.

Are people nowadays more happy than they used to be?

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Open Science, Closed Doors?

When we published the Agenda for Open Science in Communication roughly one year ago, I expected to receive pushback. After all, we called for a sweeping change of several well-established research practices. Transparency instead of confidentiality, research openly accessible but not hidden behind paywalls, showing instead of telling, quality instead of quantity.

I expected to receive pushback coming from the established quantitative scholars. From the p-hackers, the grinders, the paper manufacturers, the data-dredgers, the beneficiaries of the old and closed system. However, I didn’t expect to receive pushback from the more qualitative-oriented scholars.1

Well, turns out I was wrong.

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A longitudinal analysis of the privacy paradox

One of my major research interest is to understand better the privacy paradox. According to the privacy paradox, privacy concerns don’t affect our online behavior.

In short, everyone is concerned, but still everyone is sharing widely.

I was always skeptical of the privacy paradox, and wherever there’s data on concerns and online sharing I’m eager to analyze it. One analysis, conducted together with Philipp Masur and Sabine Trepte, was recently published by New Media & Society. In this post, I provide a brief summary.

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Wie gefährlich sind Social Media?

Young Woman looking critically

Mehr als eine Stunde verbringen die Deutschen täglich auf Facebook, Instagram oder Twitter. Ob in Bussen und Bahnen, beim Arzt im Wartezimmer oder auf der Bank am Spielplatzrand: Social Media sind unser steter Begleiter geworden.

Sie vermitteln Freundschaft und Partnerschaft, Politik und Sport, Arbeit und Katzenvideos. Doch Social Media lenken auch ab, können neidisch machen und Schauplatz von Hassrede und Anfeindungen sein.

Wie gefährlich sind Social Media? Ist die Nutzung noch sozial oder schon eher Zeichen von Einsamkeit? Reduzieren Social Media die Lebenszufriedenheit?

Eine exakte Antwort lässt sich hierauf nicht geben. Auch nicht aus wissenschaftlicher Perspektive. Aber es gibt drei zentrale Erkenntnisse aus der Forschung, die Leitplanken sein können, und die ich im Folgenden vorstelle.

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