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Protective Motivation Theory and the implications for
Smart Home technology adoption.

1.0 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 2

2.0 Theory ............................................................................................................................................. 3
3.0 Application of Theory .................................................................................................................... 4
3.1 Threat Appraisal: ....................................................................................................................... 5
3.2 Coping Appraisal ....................................................................................................................... 6
4.0 Conclusion ...................................................................................................................................... 6
5.0 References ..................................................................................................................................... 7
1.0 Introduction
Use of Smart Home Technology has seen a significant rise in the sustainable home technology
era, and are considered to provide a significant contribution to the transition to a lower carbon
energy system in Europe (Balta-Ozkan et al, 2014). With the worldwide total market value of
the global smart homes market being predicted at 58.68 billion U.S. dollars by 2020 (Statista,

The primary motivation for Smart Home Technology adoption is environmental sustainability
and management (Louis, Calo & Pongracz, 2014). To monitor household energy consumption
through the use of domestic devices, with the conclusive goal of reducing individual energy
consumption (Sintov & Schultz 2017). A Smart Home is in essence a domestic residence that
is equipped with a network of communicating devices which are monitored and accessed
remotely, and provide a visual or communicative services (Chan et al. 2008 & Reinisch et al.
2011). The wide range of smart home technologies including smart metres, electric car
charging stations, doorbells with video and CCTV capabilities and applications to control
lighting and heating in the home (Saad Al-Sumaiti et al. 2013) demonstrate the services
provided such as assistive, management and security (Balta-Ozkan et al. 2014).

Despite the relevant benefits to obtaining and using smart home technology in a domestic
setting, there are numerous consumer barriers to the adoption and utilization of Smart Homes.
These barriers include, issues regarding security, privacy and data protection (Jacobsson,
Boldt & Carlsson, 2016). Therefore the purpose of this assignment is to focus on whether the
relative barriers relating to personal and home security after the integration of Smart Home
Technology encourage protective motivation behaviours and suppress the adoption of such

As a consequence of this purpose the overall objective of this research paper is to contribute
to the analysis of Smart Home technology devices in domestic settings and the perceptions of
individuals towards security within their own homes. Applying the integration of smart home
technology devices to theoretical frameworks presented within Protection Motivation Theory,
to understand if there are any protective behaviours which could prevent continued use or the
purchase of Smart Home technologies within modern homes.
2.0 Theory
Protective Motivation Theory or PMT developed first by Rogers (1975) was theorised to help
clarify fear appeals of individuals. Protection Motivation Theory’s overall contribution is the
capacity to predict an individual’s ability to and intentions regarding self and home protection
after receiving ‘fear-arousing recommendations’ (Floyd et al. 2000, p.411). It is considered to
be the one of the most prominent modern explanations for predicting an individual’s intention
to engage in protective actions (Anderson and Agarwal, 2010). PMT stems from two core
concepts existing within the theory, these are outlined as: threat appraisal and coping
appraisal (Ifinedo, 2012). Threat appraisal assesses how the individual examines how serious
the situation they are experiencing is (Floyd et al, 2000). Whereas coping appraisal consists
of either efficacy or the individuals expectations of removing threats and self-efficacy, or how
capable the individual is to actually execute recommendations (Rogers, 1975).

These are interlinked by four contingents of why an individual may desire to protect
themselves or their property. These four categories are: perceived threat severity, fear itself,
protective motivation and finally security related behaviours (Rogers, 1983). Noting that when
an individual perceives a threat severity and vulnerability, this results in fear, which ultimately
can result in protection motivation and finally security related behaviours (Rogers, 1983).
Which ultimately means changing an individual’s lifestyle regarding the security risk or
removing the risk from the individual’s life or scenario (Boss et al, 2015).

Threat Appraisal: as stated by Rogers (1983) as an individual’s understanding of the level of

danger posed by a threatening event (Rogers, 1983). It can be summarised within the two
following terms:

1) The perception of vulnerability: the individual’s assessment of the probability of

threatening events observed.
2) The perception of severity: the severity of the consequences of the possible event
resulting in a security related incident.

The Coping Appraisal core aspect of Protection Motivation Theory as stated by Rogers
(1983) refers to the individual’s assessment of their respective ability to cope with any potential
loss or damage arising from any threat (Woon et al, 2005). The coping appraisal notion is split
into three sub variants and determinants of threats, these are:

1) Self-Efficacy: this determinant relates to the individuals judgement or relevant ability

regarding their capabilities to cope with or perform the recommended behaviour.
2) Response Efficacy: this determinant relates to the belief about the perceived benefit
to the individual of the action taken to overcome the threat.
3) Response Cost: this final determinant of coping appraisal relates to any relevant costs
in terms of either monetary, time or effort to respond to any recommended behaviours.

Each of the contingents within both Threat Appraisal and Coping Appraisal can convert directly
into fear from the individual towards the in this case technology, which then results in
protection motivation, which is controlled by coping appraisals within the individual. Overall
the process within Protection Motivation Theory, is a highly personal process within the
individual, determined and influenced by what we are told and how we perceive threat severity
and recommendations provided (Chenoweth, Minch & Gattiker, 2009). Within the creation,
design and improvement of smart home technologies, it could be a powerful theory for
establishing any individual consumer potential for perceiving risk and threats when using and
engaging with Smart Home technologies, as according to Weber & Lacy (2011) ‘modern
citizens expect and demand increased levels of security, protection and comfort in all aspects
of life’ (Weber & Lacy, 2011: pg. 1023) especially within the home.

In figure 1. Is an outline of the PMT model and each of the determinants which can result in
adaptive response containing both protection motivation and security related behaviours.

Figure 1: Protective Motivation Theory Model

Retrieved from: Boss et al, (2015 p. 840)

3.0 Application of Theory

Smart Home Technologies as they have increased in popularity and availability have become
increasingly subject to scrutiny and evaluation (Hargreaves, Wilson & Hauxwell-Baldwin,
2017). As there are seemingly data ‘black-spots’ in the knowledge of the consumer, with most
openly trusting the devices and the concept of Smart Homes, without firstly researching or
granting specific permissions to what data can be recorded, stored and shared (Vijay et al,

Through an analysis of existing research and studies predominantly focussing on a consumers

reactions to a security risk within a Smart Home (Jacobsson, Boldt & Carlsson, 2016) and
technical frameworks for preventing data breaches (Hargreaves & Wilson, 2017; Jose &
Malekin, 2017; Won, Seo & Jong, 2017). Comparatively the core categories of PMT, such as
the feelings of fear and vulnerability and adaptive behaviours of users are the primary
objectives for overcoming resistance in current research in the integration and adoption of
Smart Home technologies.
Privacy and security as concepts are highly complex and ultimately personal to the individual,
depending on a range of factors such as: social, physical and cultural and can vary
considerably between individuals (Wilkowska, Xiefle & Himmel, 2015). An individual’s reaction
to a potential security threat or risk to personal data being shared within a Smart Home is
typically dependant on their own technological abilities and their perceptions of vulnerability
and severity of such risk. Relating complicity to PMT, as a predictor of how an individual
responds to any potential threats is down to their own perceptions of severity and their own
efficacy when responding to threats (Rogers, 1975; Rogers, 1983).

Therefore within this section existing research surrounding security and privacy within Smart
Homes will be evaluated comparatively with the two core facets of PMT theory Rogers (1975).
In an attempt to analyse the elements of protective motivation surrounding potential personal
security threats experienced in the use of Smart Home technology devices.

3.1 Threat Appraisal:

Threat appraisal is considered in two stages, perception of vulnerability and perception of
severity. In the case of Smart home technology the perception of vulnerability could be
established in the individual through interaction with devices, such as home assistants or even
smart meters. This is due to the individuals perceptions of privacy, their belief there could be
a security risk to themselves or their homes through using such devices or even adverse
experiences in the collection of data and data permissions when setting up devices, if the
individual is less than competent with technology (Nanda & Panigrahi, 2014).

As demonstrated ‘There is not a single power meter or device on the grid or in the internet of
things smart environments that is protected from hacking’ (Arabo, Brown, E;-Moussa, 2013
pg. 819), which in terms of the consumer could mean opening your home to potential hackers
simply by installing a smart home device (Jacobsson, Boldt & Carlsson, 2016). Smart Home
technology has been recognised as a significant contribution to the transition to a lower carbon
energy (Sintov & Schultz 2017) if consumers perceive there is a potential for vulnerability or
that smart home technologies could cause security or threatening events, the levels of smart
home devices purchased could decrease (Jacobsson, Boldt & Carlsson, 2016), only to be
remedied by full transparency from the smart device provider on information they collect and
what security permissions can be applied to reduce vulnerability both within the system and
being transferred to the individual (Hargreaves, Wilson & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017).

As explained within technology the biggest risk to security is always the human factor, with
Arabo, Brown, E;-Moussa (2013) stating ‘Home users generally assume that everything will
work just as it should, relying on a devices' default settings’ (Arabo, Brown, E;-Moussa, 2013
pg: 820) without fully understanding how to operate devices or manage security of devices
themselves. Within PMT it is the individual who reacts to perceptions of both vulnerability and
severity and this results in protective behaviour.

Literature suggests that in relation to smart homes, PMT theory could also be considered with
the perception of severity simple due to the range of Smart devices available, encompassing
all areas of the home. For example the storage of sensitive or personal information stored
within an external database, or the possibility for burglary or home invasion (Jose & Malekin,
2017). With previous literature suggesting the range of severity among security and privacy
attacks in Smart Home technology could also see a direct effect on their adoption within the
wider market and individual homes (Jacobsson, Boldt & Carlsson 2016, Sintov & Schultz,
3.2 Coping Appraisal
Coping appraisal consists of three facets, pertaining to the individual user’s abilities to deal
with a security situation or threat, how the individual believes they can cope with the situation
These three facets are: self-efficacy, response efficacy and response cost (Rogers, 1975,

Self-efficacy could be established by researching the technology before installing it into the
home (Arabo, Brown, El-Moussa, 2013), especially security settings to increase self-efficacy.
As stated in previous research pertaining to the technological frameworks for preventing data
and security risks (Jose & Malekin, 2017; Won, Seo & Jong, 2017) self-efficacy pertains to
what extent the user believes they can successfully cope with the security threat or situation
they experience, being fully aware of how the smart home technology works is vital to their
following response, if a response is necessary (Alaa et al, 2017). Previous research suggests
that whilst it is human interaction is the reason for most security and privacy breaches within
technology, this risk is exacerbated in the implementation of smart home technologies within
the elderly community or at risk groups (Liu et al, 2016; Reeder et al, 2013). This could be a
behaviours within PMT which could exacerbate the conclusion of fear and protective
behaviours within certain groups in relation to smart home technologies.

Response efficacy in this case it could be removing the Smart Home Technology device, or
simply not implementing such technologies into the individuals home (Jose & Malekin, 2017).
In relation to PMT theory the response efficacy is dependent on how able the individual is to
respond to a threat (Woon et al, 2005). Whilst previous research focusses on individual
knowledge barriers to the adoption of smart home devices, there is little research into the
average consumer’s ability in responding to any potential security risks or threats. The notion
that an individual smart home owner could not respond and follow recommendations to
overcome a security risk is not noted in previous literature, however it is accepted that the
average consumer is likely to rely on default security settings and have less of an awareness
to overall security issues (Arabo, Brown, E;-Moussa, 2013). Suggesting more research is
needed in the average individual’s abilities when owning and using smart home devices, in
relation to any possible security or data risks.

Response Cost In this example in relation to PMT and smart homes, could be in relation to
the effort needed in response to securing any smart home technology devices to ensure the
safety and security of one’s home (Weber & Lacy, 2011). Both before and after any potential
data or security breaches (Kuo, Ma and Alexander, 2017). As stated response cost is any cost
to the individual when responding to a security or data risk scenario (Rogers, 1983). Research
suggests that as the notion of privacy and security differ between (Wilkowska, Xiefle &
Himmel, 2015), and so the value that an individual places on the cost of time and possibly
monetary cost of dealing with a security risk differs between smart home users.

4.0 Conclusion
Current research has emphasised the benefits of smart home technologies in a range of
functions such as sustainability and reducing carbon footprints as well as a range of other
capabilities (Balta-Ozkan et al, 2013). Due to the increasing popularity and availability of such
devices, the possibility of security and data risks have been considered through their use in
domestic environments (Arabo, Brown, E;-Moussa, 2013; Kuo, Ma and Alexander, 2017).
However whilst evaluating the benefits of using Smart Home technologies and some current
research on the benefits of such technologies on differing societal groups (Liu et al, 2016),
little research has been established in predicting how individuals would react to the possibility
of such attacks to personal security and data protection, and if such events would cause issues
in the promotion of and retention of smart home technology users. PMT theory (Rogers, 1975;
1983) being considered as a definitive theoretic framework in predicting protective and
defensive behaviours in consumers when faced with vulnerability and fear (Anderson &
Agrawal, 2010). Comparing the use of smart home technologies to PMT theory to predict fear
and protective behaviours in individuals is a start in research surrounding the motivations and
consumer benefits of such technology devices in a domestic setting. Conclusively further
research could focus on different societal groups, especially the use of smart home devices
such as those relating to health and the elderly (Liu et al, 2016), to further predict any barriers
to the adoption of smart home technologies. Considering especially whether adverse
information on the security and data protection could prevent the wider use of smart home
technologies in domestic settings.

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