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Behav Res Methods. 2007 May;39(2):205-11.

A multimethod approach to examining usability of Web privacy polices and user agents for specifying privacy preferences.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2081, USA.


Because all research methods have strengths and weaknesses, a multimethod approach often provides the best way to understand human behavior in applied settings. We describe how a multimethod approach was employed in a series of studies designed to examine usability issues associated with two aspects of online privacy: comprehension of privacy policies and configuration of privacy preferences for an online user agent. Archival research, user surveys, data mining, quantitative observations, and controlled experiments each yielded unique findings that, together, contributed to increased understanding of online-privacy issues for users. These findings were used to evaluate the accessibility of Web privacy policies to computer-literate users, determine whether people can configure user agents to achieve specific privacy goals, and discover ways in which the usability of those agents can be improved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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