My privacy is okay, but theirs is endangered: Why comparative optimism matters in online privacy concerns

Young Min Baek, Eun Mee Kim, Young Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


It is easy to trace and compile a record of individuals' online activities, and cases of online privacy infringement (i.e., improper use of personal information) have been reported in advanced societies. Based on existing risk perception research, this study examines comparative optimism regarding online privacy infringement (i.e., users tend to believe privacy infringement is less likely to happen to oneself than to others) and its antecedents and consequences. Relying on large-scale online survey data in South Korea (N = 2028), this study finds: (1) comparative optimism is higher when the comparison targets are younger; (2) online knowledge and maternalistic personality traits increase comparative optimism mainly by influencing perceived risk to others, while prior experience of privacy infringement increases comparative optimism mainly by influencing perceived personal risk; and (3) comparative optimism is related to both greater adoption of privacy-protective behaviors and a higher level of support for government policies to restrict the use of online information. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings, along with potential limitations, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by New Faculty Research Seed Money Grant (Grant No.: 2013-1-0009) which Yonsei University funded to the first author. We appreciate Dr. Junewoong Rhee, Dr. Irkwon Jeong, and Dr. Yoonkyung Cho for their valuable comments on the first draft.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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