Self-Confidence Trumps Knowledge: A Cross-Cultural Study of Security Behavior


Computer security tools usually provide universal solutions without taking user characteristics (origin, income level, …) into account. In this paper, we test the validity of using such universal security defenses, with a particular focus on culture. We apply the previously proposed Security Behavior Intentions Scale (SeBIS) to 3,500 participants from seven countries. We first translate the scale into seven languages while preserving its reliability and structure validity. We then build a regression model to study which factors affect participants’ security behavior. We find that participants from different countries exhibit different behavior. For instance, participants from Asian countries, and especially Japan, tend to exhibit less secure behavior. Surprisingly to us, we also find that actual knowledge influences user behavior much less than user self-confidence in their computer security knowledge. Stated differently, what people think they know affects their security behavior more than what they do know.

ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)
Equal contribution by the first two authors