The development of a Desire for Privacy Scale

Date of Completion

January 1993


Psychology, Social




A scale measuring the desire for privacy as an individual difference variable was developed. The desire for privacy was treated as a unitary construct with many aspects. Based on theories of privacy, the private person was described as one who prefers greater control over interaction and personal information, more often chooses to be inaccessible, and withholds more personal information. As well as desiring greater amounts of privacy, the private person places greater importance on obtaining it.^ Forty-two items employing seven-point bipolar response scales were constructed. The items referred to states of privacy and privacy-related behaviors. Undergraduate students provided data for the pilot test and subsequent stages of testing.^ The final version of the Desire for Privacy Scale contains 25 items. An internal consistency coefficient of.79 and a test-retest correlation of.80 were obtained. As expected, the Desire for Privacy Scale correlated positively with a privacy preference scale, and negatively with measures of extraversion, sociability, and self-disclosure. Correlations with shyness and loneliness were positive and unexpectedly large. Partial correlations between the desire for privacy and loneliness controlling for shyness and extraversion were smaller but still substantial. Possible explanations are suggested. Among dormitory residents, high desire for privacy was found to be associated with the perception of the dormitory space as inadequate and dissatisfaction with the amount of privacy in the dormitory. High desire for privacy subjects were more likely than those with low desire for privacy scores to prefer living in a house or apartment to living in a dormitory.^ The possibility that there are different types of private people, who vary in the extent to which they chose privacy or are compelled to seek it, is raised. ^