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Response biases in policy compliance research

: Kurowski, Sebastian


Information & computer security 28 (2020), No.3, pp.445-465
ISSN: 2056-4961
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IAO ()

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to use a developed and pre-tested scenario-based measurement instrument for policy compliance and determine whether policy compliance measurements in the current policy compliance research are biased as has been postulated during a pre-study. The expected biases are because of social desirability and because of biases based on identity theory.
Design/methodology/approach: A survey was conducted (n=54) that used policy compliance scales from literature and the developed self-reporting policy compliance (SRPC) scale, along with the Marlow–Crowne social desirability (MC-SDB) scale. Differences between the policy compliance scales were assessed. Moreover, a transformation of the SRPC measurements into the literature-based scales was examined using pair-wise t-testing. Finally, correlations between the MC-SDB and the policy compliance scales were examined.
Findings: There are no significant influences on the desire for social approval of the respondents as was exhibited by the MC-SDB values and policy compliance on either scale. However, the SRPC scale measurements show deviations from the literature-based policy compliance scales. Individuals that exhibit secure behaviour, which is not rooted in a policy but rather in anything but the policy, are also captured as being policy compliant in the current scales. This shows that a response bias exists in current scales. Respondents, who perceive to exhibit secure behaviours, may think that they are in compliance with the policy, even when they are not.
Practical implications – These findings mean that several contributions in the field of policy compliance must be questioned and that a revisit of several factors influencing policy compliance may be required.
Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, response biases in policy compliance research have not been considered to date.