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i did it because i trusted you”: Challenges with the study environment biasing participant behaviours

By Andreas Sotirakopoulos, Kirstie Hawkey and Konstantin Beznosov


We recently replicated and extended a 2009 study that investigated the effectiveness of SSL warnings. Our experimental design aimed to mitigate some of the limitations of that prior study, including allowing participants to use their web browser of choice and recruiting a more representative user sample. However, during this study we observed and measured a strong bias in participants ’ behaviour due to the laboratory environment. In this paper we discuss the challenges of observing natural behaviour in a study environment, as well as the challenges of replicating previous studies, given the rapid changes in web technology. Finally, we propose alternatives to traditional laboratory study methodologies that can be considered by the usable security research community when investigating research questions involving sensitive data where trust may influence behaviour

Topics: General Terms Human Factors, Security, Experimentation Keywords Usable Security, Experimental Design, Study Environment Bias, Study Replication
Year: 2010
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