Privacy under construction: A developmental perspective on privacy perception

W.M.P. Steijn, A.H. Vedder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


We present a developmental perspective regarding the difference in perceptions toward privacy between young and old. Here, we introduce the notion of privacy conceptions, that is, the specific ideas that individuals have regarding what privacy actually is. The differences in privacy concerns often found between young and old are postulated as the result of the differences found in their privacy conceptions, which are subsequently linked to their developmental life stages. The data presented have been obtained through a questionnaire distributed among adolescents, young adults, and adults and provide support for this developmental perspective. This study is one of the first to include adolescents when investigating the privacy concerns among young and old. The results show that the privacy conceptions held by adolescents indeed differ from those held by young adults and adults in keeping with the expectations as seen from a developmental perspective. In addition, the areas in which the differences in privacy conceptions are found also reflect the strongest relationship with concerns. As such, these findings present an alternative perspective to the commonly held notion that young people are less concerned about privacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-637
Number of pages23
JournalScience, Technology & Human Values
Issue number4
Early online date15 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • privacy
  • data protection
  • adolescents


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