New Journal Article Published: The Role of Online Privacy Literacy in Democratic Societies
Because of the intangibility of privacy intrusions and the lack of awareness about potential negative consequence for society, comparatively few Internet users try to protect their privacy or support more data protection politically. Rather, individuals seem to disclose a large amount of personal information on the Internet. In light of this, the role of online privacy literacy seems pivotal in democratic societies. In this paper, we argue that the concept of online privacy literacy (which has mostly been defined as multidimensional knowledge concept in previous literature) should be extended and defined as a combination of factual and procedural knowledge as well as specific skills and self-assessment abilities. For this purpose, we propose the online privacy literacy process model that allows examining the necessary knowledge and skills for the realization of informational self-determination. With this model, we argue that individuals need to pass through several consecutive phases before the will actually implement privacy protection behaviors (awareness, reflection, preparation, implementation, maintenance). Based on this theoretical rationale, we argue that only such a comprehensive concept of online privacy literacy can be regarded as a requirement for the informational self-determination of individuals as well as for the sensitizing of citizens for the societal value of privacy. The paper was published in the German journal Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen (Link).

MARCH 16TH, 2017
New Journal Article Published: Development of the Online Privacy Literacy Scale
Over the last three years, I have been interested in the role of online privacy literacy in shaping user behavior in online environments. In recent debates, online privacy literacy has been regarded as an indisputable precondition for the implementation of data protection strategies. However, we realized that a comprehensive conceputalization and a corresponding scale is missing. Hence, our aim was to develop and validate a comprehensive knowledge scale that encompasses all relevant dimension of online privacy literacy. We identified these dimensions using a qualitative content analysis whose results were published already earlier (Trepte, Teutsch, Masur et al., 2015). On the basis of this analysis, we created an initial item pool with 113 knowledge questions. This item pool was used to develop a 20-item scale, including four dimensions: knowledge about (a) institutional practices, (b) technical aspects of data protection, (c) the data protection law, and (d) data protection strategies. In this paper, we present results from three consecutive studies which suggest a bifactor structure, in which online privacy literacy is represented by the global factor. We tested the construct and criterion validity in a quota sample of German Internet users (N = 1,945). It can be shown that the global factor correlated positively with subjective privacy literacy and proved to be an adequate predictor of the implementation of data protection measures. The paper was published in the journal Diagnostica (Link). More information about the project can also be found on the project-related website ( If you are interested in using the final scale, please feel free to download the manual that is also available on the website (Download).

New Journal Article Published: Online Communication and Well-Being
Does communication on social network sites (SNSs) or instant messengers (IMs) reinforce or displace face-to-face (FtF) communication, and how do the three channels affect loneliness and life satisfaction? Similar questions about the impact of modern communication technology have a long tradition in communication science. In the project, we wanted to look at these questions from a longitudinal perspective. More specifically, we used cross-lagged structural equation modeling based on a representative panel from Germany. We found that SNS communication increased both FtF and IM communication 6 months later. Likewise, IM communication at T1 increased SNS communication at T2. FtF, SNS, and IM communication did not affect loneliness, and FtF and IM communication did not change life satisfaction. However, communication on SNSs slightly increased life satisfaction. Thus, the data indicated that conversing via SNSs and IM has a mainly reinforcing effect instead of replacing traditional FtF communication. Furthermore, the results suggest that online communication generally does not lead to less well-being. The article was published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (Link).

New Research Report Published: Privacy Attitudes and Behaviors of the German Population
With this report, we present the results of a representative study on privacy attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors in the German population. The findings in this report stem from the first wave of an on-going longitudinal panel study in which a representative panel of participants was surveyed five times over the course of three years. The first wave, which was conducted in May 2014, was completed by 3,278 participants.The aim of this survey is to help generate profound knowledge about the German population's attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions surrounding privacy. In sum, we observed the following key findings:

  • Germans generally do not believe that the importance of privacy has decreased in our society.
  • Eight out of ten Germans think that individuals should be able to determine for themselves which aspects of their selves to communicate publicly.
  • The majority of the German population holds strong views against data surveillance by the government.
  • Most people are concerned about data collection practices, data misuse, and privacy violations by other Internet users.
  • Disclosure of personal information remains a rather big issue for two thirds of the population.
  • The willingness to self-disclose in public online environments is generally quite low. However, the willingness to self-disclose in other computer-mediated communications is significantly higher.
  • In general, German citizens disclose personal information quite rarely. However, younger people generally disclose more personal information than older people.
  • People almost never experience privacy violations on the Internet.
  • Germans' online privacy literacy is moderate. Although many citizens are quite aware of data collection and analyses by online website providers, they are not very knowledgeable about protection laws and sophisticated data protection strategies.
The whole research report with detailed descriptions of the findings can be downloaded here.

MAY 25TH, 2016
New Research Report: Findings of a Multicultural Survey Study
We recently published a research report on a multicultural survey study on privacy and self-disclosure. We present comparative results from five nations (United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and China) with regard to social media use, self-disclosure, privacy perceptions and attitudes, and privacy behavior in online environments. The findings suggest that a broad differentiation between Western and Eastern cultures only partly account for differences in social media use and privacy behavior. Rather, the results suggest that European countries (United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands) share similar privacy perceptions and evaluations and engage in similar privacy behavior. The research report can be downloaded here.

APRIL 17TH, 2016
Blogpost: Understanding the Replication Crisis
Over the last years, there have been many efforts to shed light on what has been termed the replication crisis of psychological science. Although this title suggests that this discussion is primarily about the reproducibility of psychological studies, it touches many more aspects. In this discussion, many important questions are being asked: How reliable is (psychological) science in general? What factors influence the quality of science? What can we do to improve the quality of science? It further touches the question of publication bias, questionable research practices, open science, and more generally the credibility of science itself. If one dives into the many discussions and comments on this topic, one can easily loose orientation. I have tried to summarize the main points of the discussion in the following post. The post further includes links to the key publications. In summary, this article should help to understand the replication crisis and provide a reading list for those who want to learn about the overal crisis in more depth... read more.

MARCH 5TH, 2016
New Journal Article Published: Disclosure Management on Social Network Sites
In this paper, Michael Scharkow and I have analyzed in how far users imply different disclosure management strategies in status updates and chat conversations depending on the level of privacy they ascribe to different types of information. We asssumed that users perceive specific information as differently private depending on their personal privacy preferences, but generally show the same disclosure management pattern: the higher the perceived privacy level of an information, the less frequently it will be shared. We tested the hypothesis using an online survey with 316 German SNS users. You can hence access the article for free (Link). The data and analyses are also available in the online repository of the open science framework (Materials).

JANUARY 20TH, 2016
New Book Chapter Published: Do-it-yourself Data Protection - Empowerment or Burden?
In this chapter, we look at data protection implemented by individual citizens. So called do-it-yourself (DIY) data protection is often considered as an important part of comprehensive privacy protection. Particularly in the wake of diagnosing the "privacy paradox", fostering DIY privacy protection and providing the respective tools is seen both as important policy aim and as a developing market. Individuals are meant to be empowered in a world where an increasing amount of actors is interested in their data. We analyze the preconditions of this view empirically and normatively: Thus, we ask (1) Can individuals protect data efficiently; and (2) Should individuals be responsible for data protection. We argue that both for pragmatic and normative reasons, a wider social perspective on data protection is required. The paper is concluded by providing a short outlook how these results could be taken up in data protection practices. The chapter is published in the proceedings of the conference "Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection" here.

JUNE 17TH, 2015
New Journal Article: Privacy Needs and Behaviors of Different Communication Types
In this study, we used a cluster analysis to identify different communication patterns among German users of social media. We then analyzed in how far these different communication types differ with regard to perceptions, evaluations, attitudes on privacy and privacy protection strategies. Based on a representative sample of the German population with N = 3278 participants, we found that there a four different communication types: (1) older people who prefer to communicate face-to-face, (2) younger people who communicate mostly with their friends via social network sites and instant-messengerapps, (3) people who communicate via all available channels and (4) people who refuse to use social network sites and instead communicate via instant-messenger (cf. figure on the right).
The study was published in the current issue (5/2015) of the journal Media Perspektiven (here).

New Book Chapter: What is Online Privacy Literacy?
We recently contributed a chapter to the book "Reforming European Data Protection Law". The compilation of articels offers readers conceptual analyses as well as thoughtful discussions of issues, practices, and solutions with regard to privacy and data protection. It features results of the seventh annual international Conference on Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection (CPDP), held in Brussels in january 2014. Our chapter discusses the role of online privacy literacy and how it might explain the often observed gap between privacy concerns and behaviors. You can find the chapter here.

AUGUST 15TH, 2014
New Journal Article Published: Can Facebook Use Become Addictive?
Together with my co-authors Leonard Reinecke, Marc Ziegele and Oliver Quiring (all University of Mainz), I conducted a study on social network site addiction which was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The study aims at exploring the relatively new phenomenon of social network site addiction and at identifying predictors of problematic SNS use. For this purpose, a scale measuring addictive behavior specifically with regard to SNS use was developed and the effects of intrinsic need satisfaction in the offline context and of SNS-specific motives on SNS addiction were tested in an online-survey among 581 SNS users in Germany (Link).

AUGUST 6TH, 2014
New White Paper: The Role of Self-Data-Protection
Our department is part of a forum on privacy (dt. Forum Privatheit), a consortium of different researchers from various disciplines who conduct studies in the context of online privacy and data protection. From time to time, the forum publishes white papers focussing on specific aspects of privacy and data protection in the internet. I contributed to the latest white paper on "self data protection". You can download the paper here.