To me, it seems counterintuitive, but website privacy notices appear to discourage shoppers from buying. By now, it’s an expected right-of-passage. As you enter credit card information for an online purchase, up pops two familiar words: “Privacy Notice.” 

Does seeing those words make you more confident about the transaction, knowing that the company will safeguard your private information? Or does it make you feel less safe by making you conscious of just how much you are giving away? I strongly finds that it’s more likely to be the latter. 

“Even if a privacy policy is meant to be mitigating, it can lead you to think about privacy in a different perspective. “When people weren’t presented with a privacy notice, their purchase interest was about twice that of those who had been shown the privacy notice.” 

This is a study, between Utah State’s Aaron Brough and Ohio State’s David Norton, compares the phenomenon to seeing bulletproof glass at a bank. “Bulletproof glass is something meant to protect us, but sometimes its very presence can make us aware of the dangers we hadn’t previously been paying attention to. “So ironically, it can make us feel less safe.” 

If companies do provide a notice, however, they must abide by it. For that reason, companies often make them as broad and sweeping as possible—perhaps triggering customers to worry about what the company might do with their data.