NSF Funds Multi-Disciplinary Privacy Study
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted $2.7 million to three researchers in the School of Computer Science’s Institute for Software Research and the Heinz College for a five-year study on "Nudging Users Toward Privacy."
Alessandro Acquisiti, associate professor of information technology and public policy in the Heinz College, Lorrie Cranor, associate professor of computer science and engineering and public policy, and Norman Sadeh, professor of computer science, will study, design, and test systems that anticipate, and sometimes even exploit, cognitive and behavioral biases that hamper users’ privacy and security decision making. They aim to develop a scientific body of knowledge, and empirically test the design of privacy technologies that nudge users without restricting their choices.
The work will include conducting foundational studies to understand user privacy needs, preferences, and behaviors; developing "nudging" technologies to support and ameliorate privacy decision-making in these domains; and evaluating the effectiveness of these technologies in countering users’ biases and increasing their overall welfare and satisfaction.
The study will introduce a novel approach to the design of privacy technologies and policies, leveraging both ongoing work on usable privacy and security and lessons from behavioral decision research and, in particular, soft paternalism.