Article | Journal of Legal Studies | June 2013

What is Privacy Worth?

by Alessandro Acquisti, Leslie John and George Loewenstein

Abstract

Understanding the value that individuals assign to the protection of their personal data is of great importance for business, law, and public policy. We use a field experiment informed by behavioral economics and decision research to investigate individual privacy valuations and find evidence of endowment and order effects. Individuals assigned markedly different values to the privacy of their data depending on (1) whether they were asked to consider how much money they would accept to disclose otherwise private information or how much they would pay to protect otherwise public information and (2) the order in which they considered different offers for their data. The gap between such values is large compared with that observed in comparable studies of consumer goods. The results highlight the sensitivity of privacy valuations to contextual, nonnormative factors.

Keywords: Safety; Valuation; Identity;

Citation:

Acquisti, Alessandro, Leslie John, and George Loewenstein. "What is Privacy Worth?" Journal of Legal Studies 42, no. 2 (June 2013): 249–274.