A Legal-Psychological Approach to Understanding Online Attitudes and Behaviours

Eoin Carolan, M. Rosario Castillo-Mayén


This paper seeks to combine insights from two distinct disciplinary fields, Law and Psychology, in order to develop an integrated understanding of the relationship between attitudes to, and the regulation of, online technologies. Specifically, this paper focuses on concerns about the right to privacy that are raised because of the development of new technologies. One of the legal responses to this concern has been a new EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communication, which requires, amongst other measures, that websites obtain the informed consent of users to the use of tracking devices (‘cookies’). This study seeks to test how the application of Law, and in particular of this Directive, is affecting individuals’ attitudes and behaviour when online. Given that both the manner of website compliance with the Directive and the efficacy of the measures introduced have been questioned, an empirical approach of the effectiveness of these measures seems necessary. With this purpose, university students were invited to participate in an online experiment, which was conducted to evaluate the impact of different approaches to compliance with the new Directive on users’ online attitudes and behaviours. The effect of making users more aware of warnings about cookies’ use was also tested. Results allow for an inter-disciplinary analysis of the types of measure which may be more effective in protecting individuals’ right to privacy when online.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n10p473

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This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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