Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Bart P. Knijnenburg

Committee Member

Marten Risius

Committee Member

Kaileigh A. Byrne

Committee Member

Kelly Caine

Committee Member

Guo Freeman


Literature depicts a deficit-based narrative around older adults and their technology use, suggesting that older adults are not able to keep up with their younger counterparts in adopting new technologies. In this dissertation, I argue that this view is not necessarily accurate or productive. Instead, I argue that the deficit is in the technology design, which is not inclusive and often caters to the needs of younger adults.

I study older and younger adults' privacy decision-making as a showcase. To study the privacy decision-making process with more granularity, I used a dual-route approach (decision heuristics and privacy calculus) to disentangle different aspects of the decision. This helps identify older and younger adults' differences better. My results rebut the deficit-based narrative and show that older adults are motivated and able to manage their privacy. However, they have a different decision-making mechanism compared to younger adults. For example, older adults are more likely to make a rational decision by considering a more thorough risk/benefit trade-off than younger adults. I furthermore show that age (i.e., being older or younger adult) is only a proxy for other parameters; the different decision-making mechanisms can be justified by parameters that vary across age groups (e.g., levels of privacy literacy and privacy self-efficacy). My work introduces a new perspective in technology design and has practical implications for designing for the elderly, a population with different wants and needs.

Author ORCID Identifier




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