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A Quantitative Field Study of a Persuasive Security Technology in the Wild

Vargheese, John Paul; Collinson, Matthew; Masthoff, Judith

Authors

Matthew Collinson

Judith Masthoff



Abstract

Persuasive techniques and persuasive technologies have been suggested as a means to improve user cybersecurity behaviour, but there have been few quantitative studies in this area. In this paper, we present a large scale evaluation of persuasive messages designed to encourage University staff to complete security training. Persuasive messages were based on Cialdini’s principles of persuasion, randomly assigned, and transmitted by email. The training was real, and the messages sent constituted the real campaign to motivate users during the study period. We observed statistically significant variations, but with mild effect sizes, in participant responses to the persuasive messages. ‘Unity’ persuasive messages that had increased emphasis on the collaborative role of individual users as part of an organisation-wide team effort towards cybersecurity were more effective compared to ‘Authority’ messages that had increased emphasis on a mandatory obligation of users imposed by a hierarchical authority. Participant and organisational factors also appear to impact upon participant responses. The study suggests that the use of messages emphasising different principles of persuasion may have different levels of effectiveness in encouraging users to take particular security actions. In particular, it suggests that the use of social capital, in the form of increased emphasis of ‘unity’, may be more effective than increased emphasis of ‘authority’. These findings motivate further studies of how the use of Social capital may be beneficial for encouraging individuals to adopt similar positive security behaviours.

Citation

Vargheese, J. P., Collinson, M., & Masthoff, J. (2022). A Quantitative Field Study of a Persuasive Security Technology in the Wild. In Social Informatics: 13th International Conference, SocInfo 2022, Glasgow, UK, October 19–21, 2022, Proceedings (211-232). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-19097-1_13

Conference Name SocInfo'22: International Conference on Social Informatics 2022
Conference Location Glasgow, UK
Start Date Oct 19, 2022
End Date Oct 21, 2022
Acceptance Date Aug 4, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 12, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Aug 25, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 13, 2023
Publisher Springer
Pages 211-232
Series Title Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Series Number 13618
Series ISSN 0302-9743
Book Title Social Informatics: 13th International Conference, SocInfo 2022, Glasgow, UK, October 19–21, 2022, Proceedings
ISBN 978-3-031-19096-4
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-19097-1_13
Keywords Cybersecurity, Behaviour change, Persuasive technology, Actual effectiveness, Quantitative field study
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2899402

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