More Than Defense in Daily Experience of Privacy: The Functions of Privacy in Digital and Physical Environments

Debora Benedetta Lombardi, Maria Rita Ciceri


The purpose of the current study was to investigate the experience of privacy, focusing on its functional role in personal well-being. A sample (N = 180) comprised subjects between 18 and 50 years of age were asked to spontaneously provide accounts of their experiences with privacy and answer close-ended questions to acquire a description of a daily experience of privacy. The results showed the importance attributed to the function of privacy related to the “defense from social threats”, and the twofold function of privacy related to an “achieved state of privacy”, in the terms of both “system maintenance” and “system development”. The results also shed light on the role of the environment in shaping one’s experience of privacy. Specifically, the participants recognized more easily the function of defense from threats related to seeking privacy while interacting in digital environments, whereas they seemed to benefit from positive functions related to an achieved state of privacy in physical environments. The findings sustain the notion of privacy as a supportive condition for some psychological processes involved in the positive human functioning and confirm previous studies conducted on the role of privacy in human well-being.


privacy; positive experience; functions for well-being; person-environment interaction

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