“Everything under control?”: Privacy control salience influences both critical processing and perceived persuasiveness of targeted advertising among adolescents

Brahim Zarouali, Karolien Poels, Koen Ponnet, Michel Walrave


Given that adolescents continuously interact with the user interface of a social networking site, it might be a strategic place to address privacy-related issues. This study investigates whether and how privacy control features embedded in Facebook’s user interface could serve as a cue to influence adolescents in their critical processing and perceived persuasiveness of targeted advertisements. To test this, an experimental study among 178 adolescents aged 14-16 years was conducted. Results reveal that increasing privacy control salience by means of user interface elements leads to more critical processing of targeted advertising; at the same time, when adolescents perceive a higher privacy control, they also evaluate a targeted ad as more effective, convincing and reliable (i.e., increase in perceived persuasiveness). The study further identifies two underlying mechanisms by which these effects operate: perceived control and self-efficacy. Based on these findings, theoretical contributions and practical implications are discussed to optimize advertising campaigns on social networking sites in a responsible and privacy-protective way.

Bibliographic citation

Zarouali, B., Poels, K., Ponnet, K., & Walrave, M. (2018). “Everything under control?”: Privacy control salience influences both critical processing and perceived persuasiveness of targeted advertising among adolescents. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 12(1), article 5. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5817/CP2018-1-5


Advertising; privacy control; Facebook; critical processing; persuasion

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