In this paper, we investigate the main and qualifying effect of Hofstede's uncertainty avoidance dimension (i.e., a culture's acceptance of ambiguous or uncertain situations) of national culture on an individual's protection motivation intentions (using protection motivation theory) to adopt an information security control voluntarily. Uncertainty avoidance is particularly relevant to protection motivation theory and voluntary security related actions, because individuals often perceive high levels of ambiguity related to the threat and the mitigating control that can be adopted voluntarily. The voluntary action that we investigated in this paper is the adoption of password managers due to the perceived uncertainty associated with the threat of having poor password management practices and the ambiguity related to the efficacy of adopting a password manager to mitigate this threat. Using a survey of 227 nationally diverse individuals, we found that uncertainty avoidance qualified the impact of perceived threat vulnerability and perceived threat severity on protection motivations to adopt a password manager voluntarily. In our data, the differential effect of uncertainty avoidance on perceived threat vulnerabilities was greater for those individuals reporting a below average level of uncertainty avoidance relative to an above average level of uncertainty avoidance, but we found the opposite qualifying effect on perceived threat severity. Counter to what we hypothesized, we found that the effect of uncertainty avoidance on protection motivations was negative. These results generally hold for the core and full PMT models. Our study suggests that a one-size fits all approach to security awareness education and training (especially for voluntary security actions) may not be appropriate due to the differential effect associated with individuals from different national cultures.
Computers & Security – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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