Previous research suggests that computer security countermeasures would be effective in preventing computer abuse in organizations. However, computer abuse problems still persist despite these efforts. This study proposes a new model of computer abuse that explains a causal link between abusive behavior and a psychological state toward this behavior, drawn on the theory of pluralistic ignorance. Pluralistic ignorance is a form of erroneous social interference that is both an immediate cause and a consequence of literal inconsistency between private attitudes and public behavior. Under pluralistic ignorance, mistakenly perceived social norms overwhelm personal attitudes and subsequently lead to overt behavior contrary to an actor’s attitude. This new model contributes to the theoretical body of knowledge on computer abuse by providing a new angle for approaching the problem. In addition, it suggests to practitioners that social solutions should be considered, along with technical countermeasures, to reduce the pervasive computer abuse problems.
Kim, Jongheon; Lee, Zoonky; and Yoon, Seong No, "Pluralistic Ignorance in the Personal Use of the Internet and System Monitoring" (2005). AMCIS 2005 Proceedings. Paper 446.