A longitudinal analysis of the privacy paradox

The privacy paradox states that people’s concerns about online privacy are unrelated to their online sharing of personal information. Using a representative sample of the German population, which includes 1403 respondents who were interviewed at three waves separated by 6 months, we investigate the privacy paradox from a longitudinal perspective, differentiating between-person relations from within-person effects. Results of a cross-lagged panel model with random intercepts revealed that people who were more concerned about their online privacy than others also shared slightly less personal information online and had substantially more negative attitudes toward information sharing (between-person level). Next, people who were more concerned than usual also shared slightly less information than usual (within-person level). At the same time, we found no long-term effects of privacy concerns on information sharing or attitudes 6 months later. Together, the results provide further evidence against the privacy paradox.