This vignette-based study examines how generalized trust and the need for cognitive closure relate to the perceived acceptability of contemporary business methods of personal data collection. Subjects are exposed to four scenarios that describe a method of personal data collection, involving either brand-name companies or generic descriptors of companies. After each scenario, subjects rate how acceptable they find the practice of data collection, along with the frequency and quality of experiences that they have had with the company (for brand names) or type of company (for generic descriptors). Judgments of perceived acceptability are analyzed, both across the portfolio of judgments and within each separate scenario. While analyses of each separate scenario point to the context-dependency of the perceived acceptability of data collection, several results stand out when analyzing the subjects’ portfolios of responses in the aggregate. Higher generalized trust is linked to a higher average acceptability rating, and the effect is stronger when companies are described with brand names rather than generic descriptors. Uniformly, however, no relationship is found between need for cognitive closure and perceived acceptability. Additionally, positive experiences are found to be a stronger predictor of perceived acceptability of data collection than frequency of use.
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