Awareness, Intention, (In)Action: Individuals’ Reactions to Data Breaches

Peter Mayer*, Yixin Zou, Byron M. Lowens, Hunter A. Dyer, Khue Le, Florian Schaub, Adam J. Aviv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Data breaches are prevalent. We provide novel insights into individuals’ awareness, perception, and responses to breaches that affect them through two online surveys: a main survey (n = 413) in which we presented participants with up to three breaches that affected them, and a follow-up survey (n = 108) in which we investigated whether the main study participants followed through with their intentions to act. Overall, 73% of participants were affected by at least one breach, but participants were unaware of 74% of breaches affecting them. While some reported intention to take action, most participants believed the breach would not impact them. We also found a sizeable intention-behavior gap. Participants did not follow through with their intention when they were apathetic about breaches, considered potential costs, forgot, or felt resigned about taking action. Our findings suggest that breached organizations should be held accountable for more proactively informing and protecting affected consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1–53
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • perception
  • security
  • behavior
  • emotion
  • awareness
  • privacy
  • data breaches
  • Data breach


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