, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 43–50 | Cite as

Perceived Access to Self-relevant Information Mediates Judgments of Privacy Violations in Neuromonitoring and Other Monitoring Technologies

Original Paper


Advances in technology are bringing greater insight into the mind, raising a host of privacy concerns. However, the basic psychological mechanisms underlying the perception of privacy violations are poorly understood. Here, we explore the relation between the perception of privacy violations and access to information related to one’s “self.” In two studies using demographically diverse samples, we find that privacy violations resulting from various monitoring technologies are mediated by the extent to which the monitoring is thought to provide access to self-relevant information, and generally neuromonitoring did not rate among the more invasive monitoring types. However, brain monitoring was judged to be more of a privacy violation when described as providing access to self-relevant information than when no such access was possible, and control participants did not judge the invasiveness of neuromonitoring any differently than those told it provided no access to self-relevant information.


Privacy Self Neuroethics Self-identity Neuromonitoring 


  1. 1.
    A.H., et al. v. Northside Independent School District, et al. 5:12-cv-01113-LOG US (Western District of Texas San Antonio Division, 2013).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Moore, A.D. 2003. Privacy: its meaning and value. American Philosophical Quarterly 40: 215–227.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Parent, W.A. 1983. Privacy, Morality, and the Law. Philosophy and Public Affairs 12: 269–288.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Parker, R.B. 1973. A definition of privacy. Rutgers Law Review 27: 275–296.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Nowak, A., R.R. Vallacher, A. Tesser, and W. Borkowski. 2000. Society of self: the emergence of collective properties in self-structure. Psychological Review 107: 39–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Leary MR, Tangney JP. 2005. Handbook of self and identity. In eds. Leary MR, Tangney JP, New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Andersen, S.M., and L. Ross. 1984. Self-knowledge and social inference: I. The impact of cognitive/affective and behavioral data. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46: 280–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Andersen, S.M. 2000. Self-knowledge and social inference: II. The diagnosticity of cognitive/affective and behavioral data. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78: 772–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Risko, E.F., and A. Kingstone. 2011. Eyes wide shut: implied social presence, eye tracking and attention. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 73: 291–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Parens E, Johnston J. 2007. Does it make sense to speak of neuroethics? Three problems with keying ethics to hot new science and technology. EMBO reports 8 Spec No: S61–4. Available: doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400992. Accessed 6 July 2012.
  11. 11.
    Garland, B., and P.W. Glimcher. 2006. Cognitive neuroscience and the law. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 16: 130–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Wilfond BS, Ravitsky V. 2005. On the proliferation of bioethics sub-disciplines: do we really need “genethics” and “neuroethics”? The American Journal of Bioethics 5: 20–1; discussion W: 3–4. Available: doi:10.1080/15265160590960924. Accessed 16 June 2012.
  13. 13.
    Schweitzer, N.J., M.J. Saks, E.R. Murphy, A.L. Roskies, W. Sinnott-Armstrong, et al. 2011. Neuroimages as evidence in a mens rea defense: no impact. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 17: 357–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Farah, M.J., M.E. Smith, C. Gawuga, D. Lindsell, and D. Foster. 2009. Brain imaging and brain privacy: a realistic concern? Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 325: 119–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Rand, D.G. 2012. The promise of mechanical turk: how online labor markets can help theorists run behavioral experiments. Journal of Theoretical Biology 299: 172–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Buhrmester, M., T. Kwang, and S.D. Gosling. 2011. Amazon’s mechanical turk: a new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality, data? Perspectives on Psychological Science 6: 3–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Paolacci, G., J. Chandler, and P.G. Ipeirotis. 2010. Running experiments on amazon mechanical turk. Judgment and Decision Making 5: 411–419.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Olson, S. 2005. Brain scans raise privacy concerns. Science 307: 1548–1550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Räikkä, J. 2010. Brain imaging and privacy. Neuroethics 3: 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Leggett H. 2009. The next hacking frontier: Your brain? Available: Accessed 10 July 2012.
  21. 21.
    Wardlaw JM, O’Connell G, Shuler K, DeWilde J, Haley J, et al. 2011. “Can it read my mind?” - What do the public and experts think of the current (mis)uses of neuroimaging? PloS one 6: e25829. Available: Accessed 27 March 2012.
  22. 22.
    Covin R. 2012. Mind-reading advance lets brain scientists ‘eavesdrop’ on thoughts. Huffington Available: Accessed 8 August 2012.
  23. 23.
    Duncan DE. 2012, April 3. iBrain, a device that can read thoughts— The New York Times D2.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Paul, A. M. March 18, 2012. Your brain on fiction. The New York times SR6. Available Accessed 6 July 2012
  25. 25.
    Venkataramanan, M. 2012. Brain-reading bike helmet shows how stress you are. Available: Accessed 11 November 2012.
  26. 26.
    Bloom, P., and D.S. Weisberg. 2007. Childhood origins of adult resistance to science. Science 316: 996–997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Johnson, C.N. 2008. If you had my brain, where would I be? Children’s understanding of the brain and identity. Child Development 61: 962–972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Miresco, M.J., and L. Kirmayer. 2006. The persistence of mind-brain dualism in psychiatric reasoning about clinical scenarios. The American Journal of Psychiatry 163: 913–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. A. Baker
    • 1
  • N. J. Schweitzer
    • 1
  • Evan F. Risko
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Social and Behavioral SciencesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations