Using protection motivation theory in the design of nudges to improve online security behavior

van Bavel, René, Rodríguez-Priego, Nuria, Vila, José and Briggs, Pamela (2019) Using protection motivation theory in the design of nudges to improve online security behavior. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 123. pp. 29-39. ISSN 1071-5819

1-s2.0-S1071581918306475-main.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


We conducted an online experiment (n=2,024) on a representative sample of internet users in Germany, Sweden, Poland, Spain and the UK to explore the effect of notifications on security behaviour. Inspired by protection motivation theory (PMT), a coping message advised participants on how to minimize their exposure to risk and a threat appeal highlighted the potential negative consequences of not doing so. Both increased secure behavior – but the coping message significantly more so. The coping message was also as effective as both messages combined, but not so the threat appeal. Risk attitudes, age and country had a significant effect on behavior. Initiatives seeking to promote secure behavior should focus more on coping messages, either alone or in combination with fear appeals.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Security behavior, Protection motivation theory, Behavioral economics, Online experiment, Coping message, Threat appealNudging
Subjects: C800 Psychology
G400 Computer Science
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2018 11:07
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 11:49

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics