Degrees of Perceived Control Over Personal Information: Effects of Information Relevance and Levels of Processing

Yefim Shulman, Joachim Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Major legal, philosophical, and scientific discussions regard control over personal information as a cornerstone of users' fundamental right to privacy. Even though user perceptions of control determine whether and how people exercise their control, little is known about how these perceptions develop. We identify a property of the personal information the online service providers process, naming it the 'Order of Control'. In an online experiment ( $N=329$ ) with a pre-study ( $N=110$ ), we investigate how this property and personal information relevance affect users' perceived control across three contexts of disclosure through mobile devices: meet ups, mobile payments, and food delivery. We find that perceived control differs depending on a person's assumptions regarding the required levels of information processing. This effect was moderated by information relevance, albeit not systematically, and differed across the three contexts. The results also reveal that users tend to assume that any personal information may be recoverable from any other disclosed personal data, limiting their control over such information. Privacy practitioners and system designers should consider informing the users regarding outcomes of their disclosure and sharing decisions, while researchers should further investigate how user perceptions of control form and manifest themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40596-40608
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • HCI
  • perceptions of control
  • personal information disclosure
  • personal information processing
  • privacy
  • technology social factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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