European Journal of Information Systems

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 231–251 | Cite as

Dispositional and situational factors: influences on information security policy violations

  • Allen C Johnston
  • Merrill Warkentin
  • Maranda McBride
  • Lemuria Carter
Empirical Research


Insiders represent a major threat to the security of an organization’s information resources. Previous research has explored the role of dispositional and situational factors in promoting compliant behavior, but these factors have not been studied together. In this study, we use a scenario-based factorial survey approach to identify key dispositional and situational factors that lead to information security policy violation intentions. We obtained 317 observations from a diverse sample of insiders. The results of a general linear mixed model indicate that dispositional factors (particularly two personality meta-traits, Stability and Plasticity) serve as moderators of the relationships between perceptions derived from situational factors and intentions to violate information security policy. This study represents the first information security study to identify the existence of these two meta-traits and their influence on information security policy violation intentions. More importantly, this study provides new knowledge of how insiders translate perceptions into intentions based on their unique personality trait mix.


information security policy violation protection motivation theory general deterrence theory Big Five personality traits meta-traits factorial survey method 



This study was funded by a grant from the Institute of Homeland Security Solutions (IHSS) as part of their Cyber Security Test Bed project. IHSS is a federally funded collaborative initiative that coordinates its research activities with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division. An earlier version of this research was presented at the IFIP WG 8.11/11.13 Dewald Roode Workshop on Information Security Research. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful recommendations on earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Operational Research Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allen C Johnston
    • 1
  • Merrill Warkentin
    • 2
  • Maranda McBride
    • 3
  • Lemuria Carter
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ManagementInformation Systems, and Quantitative Methods, School of Business, University of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Management and Information SystemsCollege of Business, Mississippi State UniversityMississippi State, MSU.S.A.
  3. 3.Department of ManagementNorth Carolina A&T State UniversityGreensboroU.S.A.
  4. 4.Department of Information SystemsVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondU.S.A.

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