University of Twente Student Theses


The effects of message framing on the risks and benefits of using strong passwords

Orywahl, M.F.M. (2022) The effects of message framing on the risks and benefits of using strong passwords.

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Abstract:The amount of information an internet user is storing on different websites has been steadily increasing over the past years. This personal data is often only protected by a user created password, which does not necessarily have to adhere to any guidelines, creating the possibility for users to choose weak passwords. This research used the Extended Parallel Processing Model to design messages highlighting the risks and benefits of password use and presenting participants with the basic guidelines to set up a secure password. Further, the study tested whether the effects of warning messages could be enhanced through matching message framing. Thus, assessing whether the type of data stored by a website has an influence on perceived risks, benefits, and affect, and the strength of the password choice. Participants were presented with either a social media platform, online banking, or a website that stores books online, thus each website had a different focus, stored different types of data, and, if hacked, would pose different types of threat to their users (identity, instrumental, or neutral). Each website type had a matching message frame, focusing on a specific type of threat, that was randomly assigned to participants. The results showed that the messages based on the EPPM did influence participants' perception and behaviour, however, no additional value of the matching message frames was found. Further, it was found that initial password choice was entirely motivated by the perceived benefits of creating a strong password rather than concerns about the risks of using a weak password. The results of this research highlight the importance for further research into the long-term effects of simple but repeated warning messages on behavioural change when using the internet.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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