Culture & biometrics: regional differences in the perception of biometric authentication technologies


Previous research has identified user concerns about biometric authentication technology, but most of this research has been conducted in European contexts. There is a lack of research that has investigated attitudes towards biometric technology in other cultures. To address this issue, data from India, South Africa and the United Kingdom were collected and compared. Cross-cultural attitudinal differences were seen, with Indian respondents viewing biometrics most positively while respondents from the United Kingdom were the least likely to have a positive opinion about biometrics. Multiple barriers to the acceptance of biometric technology were identified with data security and health and safety fears having the greatest overall impact on respondents’ attitudes towards biometrics. The results of this investigation are discussed with reference to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and theories of technology acceptance. It is argued that contextual issues specific to each country provide a better explanation of the results than existing theories based on Hofstede’s model. We conclude that cultural differences have an impact on the way biometric systems will be used and argue that these factors should be taken into account during the design and implementation of biometric systems.

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We would like to thank Grant Cheyne and Kevin McDonald at Edinburgh Napier University for their invaluable help in the administration and data collection of this project. We would also like to thank NCR Financial Solutions Ltd. for their support of this research. Finally, we are indebted to the Scottish Executive and Technology Strategy Board UK for their sponsorship of this project through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme.

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Correspondence to Chris Riley.

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Riley, C., Buckner, K., Johnson, G. et al. Culture & biometrics: regional differences in the perception of biometric authentication technologies. AI & Soc 24, 295–306 (2009).

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  • Power Distance
  • Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Biometric System
  • Biometric Authentication
  • Authentication Mechanism