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Emotional Experiences of Cybersecurity Breach Victims
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking  (IF4.157),  Pub Date : 2021-09-15, DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2020.0525
Sanja Budimir, Johnny R.J. Fontaine, Etienne B. Roesch

This study investigated emotional reactions to cybersecurity breaches. Based on prior research, a context-specific instrument was developed. This new instrument covered all five emotion components identified by the componential emotion approach. In total, 145 participants that experienced a cybersecurity breach reported on their appraisals, action tendencies, bodily reactions, expressions, subjective feelings, and regulation attempts. A principal component analysis on a total of 75 emotion reactions revealed a clear three-dimensional structure. The first dimension represented the extent to which the person was generally emotionally affected. The second dimension revealed constructive action tendencies and subjective feelings that were opposed to unconstructive action tendencies, expressions, and bodily reactions. The third dimension revealed cognitive motivational reactions that were opposed to affective reactions. This study clearly indicated that cybersecurity breaches do not only form a challenge for engineers, but also have important psychological ramifications that need to be addressed. Although some people have a tendency to react with constructive and proactive actions that are likely to limit the negative consequences of the cybersecurity breach, others experience a strong negative affective stress reaction and are unlikely to take the appropriate steps to deal with the security breach situation. These people, especially, can be expected to be vulnerable to psychological complaints and possibly psychopathology. The newly developed instrument uses a comprehensive approach to assess emotional reactions to cybersecurity threats and provides an efficient way to identify potentially problematic reactions.