Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Regardless of what security professionals do to motivate personal users to adopt security technologies volitionally, the end result seems to be the same—low adoption rates. To increase these rates, we propose activating their positive psychological capital (PsyCap), which consists of hope, self-efficacy, resilience, and optimism (i.e., their “HERO within”). We propose that greater PsyCap toward a security technology is associated with greater adoption rates (and intentions thereof) because positivity increases motivation. We further posit that PsyCap both moderates and is moderated by other constructs. We suggest that personal users’ conditioned fear from the security threat moderates the effect of PsyCap on adoption intentions because some fear is necessary to activate their positive PsyCap to form their behavioral intentions to adopt security technologies. We further hypothesize that PsyCap moderates the effect of adoption intentions on actual adoption rates because activating an individual’s HERO within encourages individuals to exert the effort necessary to translate their intentions into actual adoption. Finally, we theorize that enhancing fear appeal messages with appeals to an individual’s HERO has a greater effect on volitional adoption rates relative to messages without these PsyCap-related appeals. To support our hypotheses, we conducted two experiments using the volitional adoption of a password manager application and a two-factor authentication (2FA) service. We found differential support for our hypotheses across the two security technologies, which suggests technology characteristics might mitigate the impact of PsyCap on volitional adoption decisions.





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