Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Factors Psychology

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Kaileigh Byrne

Committee Member

Dr. June Pilcher

Committee Member

Dr. Patrick Rosopa


Information communication technology (ICT), including the Internet and mobile devices, has become ubiquitous to accomplish everyday tasks. Previous research, including work with the privacy calculus framework, indicates that factors such as perceived risks and benefits of using ICTs, ICT trust, and general privacy concerns can influence individuals’ digital privacy-related decisions. One pervasive psychological factor that may potentially alter such privacy-related behaviors is acute stress. Acute stress has been shown to impact general, laboratory-based decision-making such that acute stress can promote risk-seeking behaviors and a tendency to prefer immediate rewards over delayed, greater value rewards. However, the effect of acute stress in the applied context of privacy decision-making is relatively unknown. This study employed a between-subject design in which participants were randomly assigned to either a high acute stress condition, or a low acute stress condition. In addition, we measured individuals’ levels of chronic stress, mood, perceived risk and benefits, trust, privacy concern as moderating effects and level of privacy fatigue as a mediating effect on the relationship between acute stress and privacy decision-making. The results revealed that individuals who were in the acute stress condition made risker privacy decisions. There were no significant interactions between the acute stress manipulation and any of the moderators; moreover, privacy fatigue did not mediate the relationship between acute stress and privacy decision-making. These results suggest that the impact of acute stress on privacy decision-making is robust over and above common situational and individual difference factors that have been shown to independently influence decision-making.



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