To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

From trait to state: understanding privacy concerns

Jennifer Fries Taylor (Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States)
Jodie Ferguson (Department of Marketing, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, United States)
Pamela Scholder Ellen (Department of Marketing, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 16 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to advance our understanding of how information privacy concerns are derived from the combination effects of individual traits, compound traits, situational traits and surface traits that ultimately influence the consumer’s attitude toward data collection programs. The study investigates a hierarchical model of individual traits, information privacy orientation and consumer privacy concerns.


The empirical research utilizes structural equation modeling to analyze the responses from 964 respondents.


The results suggest that consumer attitudes toward data collection programs associated with personal shopping information (e.g. retail loyalty card programs) are determined through a hierarchical model of personal traits and contextual-dependent variables. Specifically, the authors find that the compound traits of risk orientation and need for cognition influence the situational trait of information privacy orientation which leads to the surface trait of consumer privacy concern and ultimately attitude toward the information collection program.

Practical implications

The results suggest several means to increase participation in data collection programs. Although high need for cognition and high risk orientation cannot be changed, communication plans can provide guarantees that mitigate perceived risk associated with sharing personal information and highlight the information value to the individual’s sharing of information.


While previous research focuses on either the internal traits or external traits, this research contributes to the current literature by offering insights into how privacy evolves from more abstract personality traits to more situational-specific behavioral tendencies, which then influence attitudes and behavior.



Taylor, J.F., Ferguson, J. and Ellen, P.S. (2015), "From trait to state: understanding privacy concerns", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 99-112.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles