BITlab: Behavior Information Technology

404 Wilson Rd. Room 249
Communication Arts & Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

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Emotional Impact: How Stories Affect Password Behavior

by: Chris Fennell and Rick Wash


Passwords represent a vital tool in how individuals can interact with various online and computing services. One way individuals learn about passwords is through stories which can contain lessons about computer security habits. In this paper, we wanted to know what emotions individuals felt when they described their own story and if that story lead them to behave differently as a result. We analyzed the survey data from 87 participants and asked them to recall stories about passwords that influenced them. We found individuals reported overall feelings of Nervous, Anxious, Frustrated and Curious but when individuals reported feeling disheartened and dispirited, they reported changing their behavior as a result.


Chris Fennell and Rick Wash. “Emotional Impact: How Stories Affect Password Behavior.” Poster in Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security. Baltimore, MD.
August 2018.

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