Internet/Overcoming Online Information Privacy Concerns: An Information-Processing Theory Approach. term paper 42241

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Overview

This article sets out to achieve a rationale to determine the factors involved with issues of on-line privacy between website and user. It explores the complex psychology behind information exchange, including determining factors relating to incentive and motivation of users to impart personal details.

The critique suggests the implications of maintaining data protection. The benefits and drawbacks for both user and domain owner.

Essentially the project utilises the properties of what are termed expectancy-based (or motivational) theories in order to clarify the research need and then links it to how the project is to be analysed, using specific criteria. The notion of motivational increase is then tested alongside its relationship with gaining reward.

Three groups of users were identified as a result of web tests carried out with citizens of the United States and Singapore. Information sellers; or those who do not mind exchanging personal details for cash rewards, privacy guardians, who value the protection of personal information above financial gain and convenience seekers with little regard for money or website privacy.

Conjoint and Segmentation analysis were employed to gauge how significantly large groups of participants analyse and respond to services. These empirical research methods incorporate the supporting data and references from academics working in the field of Internet user studies to validate the article.

The outcomes of the theories adopted to determine a greater understanding of information privacy were useful but inconclusive. In terms of being able to categorise internet audiences effectively the findings of the article recognise the need to embark on further more detailed research targeting audience specific criteria beyond that of graduate and undergraduate students living in one pre-selected geographical area.

The Abstract outlines the context of the article succinctly. It could benefit from detailing the specifics of the background information of the experiments undertaken. Who the target audience was and why the geographical areas were selected. Alternatively this could be elaborated through an Introduction. It is unclear whether the paragraphs

immediately following on from the abstract are meant to be an Introduction.

Additionally within these chapters, between pages 14 and 16 the word �privacy� occurs over 20 times. An alternative substitute may be appropriate.

There are �keywords� listed directly after the abstract. It is unclear as to whether they are functioning SEO�s for the benefit of an internet article.

The chapter entitled Theory and Hypotheses presents a strong overall interpretation for the background to human interaction with websites and how the internet manages and utilises personal data. It is well structured and moves the theory of the argument forward.

Within the chapter entitled Methodology and Experimental Procedure the conjoint analysis model illustrates a formula which is difficult to translate on page 22. As it is explained well enough within the narrative it may benefit from being moved to the appendices. Similarly the formula on page 25 should be considered.

Not enough detail is provided in terms of why subjects were categorised by gender and age or why the particular geographical areas were selected for the experiment which would be useful at this stage.

The nature of this research is not only valuable to economists but to social scientists, psychologists, business analysts and other related areas of academic research. Greater consideration of the format and approach might be useful in terms of interpreting the information under discussion.

Table 1. Descriptive statistics lists participants from India and Malaysia. No reference to experiments of tests in these geographical regions is mentioned in the text. Are they sub-categories within the US and Singapore respectively?

At this stage of the article words and phrases become a little confusing. The article could benefit from a �Glossary of terms� at the beginning. This may save on having to explain and reiterate acronyms including H1a and H1b and the definitions of part-worth and coefficients throughout.

The chapter headed Results and Discussion becomes complicated in its definitions of analysis. The language is complex. Suggest introducing table 2 earlier into the text as there are constant references to this information prior to the reader viewing it.

There is a little too much information within the body of the text around the specifics of monetary awards. This section might benefit from fewer examples and the reader encouraged to refer to table 2.

The section on Segmentation Analysis is particularly interesting and maintains the reader�s attention.

The Conclusion is short. Following on from an article that is statistically quite strong and sometimes labored in its presentation and definitions of the research it feels a little lacking in conviction.

The appendices are very useful in terms of supporting the context for which the research evolved and enable the reader to both understand the detail and interpret the tables and figures more accurately. The more information that is provided focusing on the specifics of the web site analysis � operationally and in terms of acquiring information and user data, the more valuable the research becomes in relation to understanding it in everyday terms.

The notes and references throughout and following on from the article are accurate and very well utilised and documented.

Overall the standard of English is good, although there is an argument to suggest it is a little too academic at times and not particularly user-friendly. Some paragraphs need to be read several times in order to be appreciated.

As an overall narrative it starts to flow well and concludes satisfactorily but the chapters and content are a little confusing with a tendency to move back and forth and between arguments.

The research itself is not clearly defined enough within the actual framework, which is sometimes confusing although the level of creativity and originality shines through.

The title of this article �Overcoming Online Information Privacy Concerns: An Information-Processing Theory Approach� assumes that the research conducted has found a solution to this problem. It could be suggested that the title change in line with a research approach that is still very much in development.

Research analysis � approach and outcomes

The research that is demonstrated within the context of this article is interesting, adopting the Empirical methods of collating data. By assuming observational studies of groups of users in an environment that is typical to an everyday activity it is possible to achieve accurate findings. There are however many factors to be taken into consideration and woven into the way in which this type of research is taken forward successfully.

The key objectives that come across within this article in simplistic terms are to determine the manner in which organisations are able to obtain personal data surreptitiously using a variety of methods.

Correspondingly why internet users feel either confident or uncomfortable about being able to disclose this type of information.

Both of which are determined by many different factors. It is these factors that are explored within this paper.

Essentially two characters are involved in the type of research being carried out and represented within the context of this article the instrument (user) and the entity (website controlled by the organisation).

The aims of the researcher are to apply their own knowledge of how the instrument; in this case the person using a computer and accessing different websites, responds and reacts to different stimulus and motivations, whilst appreciating what the entity or organisation is trying to achieve and the methods they impart in order to gain this information.

The writer has adopted a good research design in order to accomplish this framework of empirical research through the utilisation of several strands of analysis.

Conjoint and segmentation analysis have been applied to achieve the overarching umbrella of empirical results. These are argued and justified well throughout the paper.

A group of participants from the US and Singapore were measured against their responses and reactions to websites falling within the criteria of financial, healthcare and travel. The subjects were provided with various opportunities to impart with personal information. How, why and what the outcomes were accumulated to form a bank of data that was then put through several processes of analysis. This resulted in the categorisation of users, together with an improved knowledge about the organisations themselves and how they collate information on individuals.

The writer cites a variety of research papers and techniques throughout the article that have dealt with various factors associated with determining issues of privacy and the internet. Most notably the privacy surveys conducted over some thirty years by Dr. Alan Westin and the number of recent national Government papers.

None have been so individually subject driven or focused so intensely on the question of human motivation and incentive.

As the research itself is so people driven � emotionally and psychologically it is disappointing in its inability to cross-reference important factors that could have been incorporated into the research process. In particular, little detail is provided in terms of what conditions and environment the experiments were carried out under. This might have had a determining effect on the responses of some of the users. Neither is a timescale within which the experiment took place confirmed. For example if financial motivation proved to be a key element, might this have been influenced by the time of year? Students participating near Christmas time or during a spring or summer break may have been much more likely to be thinking about the benefits of financial gain from a website. The economic status of subjects must come under scrutiny when legitimising research outcomes based on reward.

Neither does the paper explain why only graduate and undergraduate students from the US and Singapore were targeted and were categorised only according to gender, age and background history of online purchasing. The reader is informed that the outcomes of the research are typical in terms of how citizens of the US and Singapore differ but no explanation is provided as to why this is.

The focus group front-end evaluation mentioned in the text on the surface appears valuable and contributed to the overall outcomes.

Nonetheless it deserves greater attention to detail within the overall discussion and presentation of the research techniques. An awareness of how much these participants knew about the experiment itself prior to answering the questions posed and what their incentives were for attending are perhaps critical to legitimising the outcomes of this work. There are many contributing factors regarding personal circumstance and the way it influences decision making.

The author is correct in the observations recorded in the conclusion. In order to quantify and qualify data such as this from a fundamentally empirical approach it is imperative to categorise the subjects or �instruments� in much greater detail.

Different cultures will respond to different incentives, just as different age groups, ethnicities and even class can trigger often opposing psychological, socio-determined, intrinsic reactions from people.

The cluster groups that have been identified as Information sellers, privacy guardians, and convenience seekers have potential to shift and change when the dynamics of age, ethnicity, religion and culture are incorporated.

As these newly identified groups now stand they do provide a means of helping inform organisations capitalise on gaining further personal data by adapting their methods of extracting information accordingly.

Although there is potential to broaden the scope of this research and make it even more target focused it has already been able to identify an existing correlation between website need and personal motivation and awareness.

Another recommendation for moving this type of study forward would be to explore the wider context of this research in terms of the effect terrorism has had on people. The demand for more and more centralised information on citizens across the world has instilled both a slightly reactionary and wary response in people. Again this may be reflected across different cultures and could prove interesting in terms of looking at the arguments from another perspective.

What is particularly interesting in terms of analysing the data and outcomes of this work is determining who will benefit most from the findings. The information gathered is beneficial to many strands of business, consumer and social science based organisations and interest groups. Depending on how this research is developed and taken forward in the future will influence the way in which data is recorded and the evidence presented.

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