Workshop preview: Putting Disclosures to the Test

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Last week we announced the agenda for our September 15 workshop, “Putting Disclosures to the Test.” As we put together the agenda for this workshop, my colleagues and I reviewed many interesting research papers on disclosure evaluation and spoke with a large number of experts from marketing, economics, psychology, computer science, communications, law, and other fields.  We also reviewed some of the disclosure-related studies and evaluations conducted by or on behalf of the FTC over the past four decades. We assembled a workshop agenda that we hope will help further the understanding of disclosure testing and evaluation and lead to fruitful discussion. Unlike recent FTC workshops that have focused on a particular type of disclosure, this workshop emphasizes evaluation methods and draws together research across a wide range of disclosure areas.

Following opening remarks from FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Michael S. Wogalter will present a cognitive framework for assessing disclosure effectiveness known as the Communication-Human Information Processing (C-HIP) Model. This model can be used to describe how humans process disclosures, beginning with whether and when they notice and switch their attention to the disclosure, whether they comprehend the disclosure correctly, and whether and how the disclosure   impacts their behavior. Later in the day attention, comprehension and behavior will each be the focus of a panel.

In the next session Ilana Westerman and Craig Andrews will examine the procedures and methods used to evaluate disclosure effectiveness and discuss the costs, benefits, tradeoffs, and traps of using various evaluation procedures and methods. 

The “Your Attention Please!” panel will explore the methods used in research studies that have investigated whether and when consumers pay attention to disclosures. Rebecca Balebako will discuss research that seeks to determine the most effective time to present privacy disclosures to Android mobile app users. Nathaniel J. Evans will present findings  on how differences in modality (text and audio) impact disclosures to parents about advergames. Mariea Grubbs Hoy will cover research on whether consumers read drug facts and other disclosures. David Hyman will discuss  whether consumers notice online disclosures about sponsored content.

The “Comprehension” panel will focus on methods for evaluating whether people understand the information conveyed in disclosures. Dan Goldstein will discuss research on methods to help people comprehend numerical measurements. Elizabeth Howlett will discuss research on how consumers comprehend front of package nutrition labeling both in isolation and when comparing products. Susan Kleimann will discuss the iterative design and evaluation approach she used to develop mortgage disclosures that help consumers comprehend information about a mortgage they are considering and the differences between mortgage offers. Joel Reidenberg will discuss methods for identifying ambiguous wording that make privacy policies difficult to comprehend.

Panelists in the “Impact on Decision Making and Behavior” session will discuss studies that evaluate the impact that disclosures have on consumers’ decision making and behavior. Lillian Ablon will present a study that used a consumer survey to investigate the impact of data breach notifications. Idris Adjerid will talk about studies that investigate how the wording and presentation of privacy disclosures and choices impacts the decisions people make. Ginger Jin will discuss economic insights of information disclosure. Adair Morse will discuss studies on overcoming consumers’ cognitive biases in the context of payday loan disclosures.

The next panel will feature case studies from four researchers. Colin Campbell will present studies related to native advertising disclosures. Sarah J. Farnsworth will discuss several studies related to comprehension of product labeling disclosures. Manoj Hastak will talk about research methods for assessing the efficacy of qualifying information in advertising disclosures. Heidi Johnson will discuss methods used by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to conduct disclosure research in the lab and online.

The last panel will present studies that evaluate new approaches or new applications of existing approaches to disclosure design and presentations that suggest ways to make disclosures more efficient and effective. Serge Egelman will present research that aims to use context to automate Android permissions decisions and determine when disclosures should be displayed to smartphone users. Tamar Krishnamurti will discuss research on shortening informed consent disclosures for medical studies based on feedback about what participants find most important. Florian Schaub will present research on contextualizing and personalizing privacy notices and privacy controls.

Finally, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, will present closing remarks.

The workshop is free and open to the public. No registration is necessary, but arrive at the Constitution Center early to get through security. For those who can’t make it to Washington, DC in person, the event will be webcast live and videos will be posted on our website after the workshop. Event details are available on the workshop website.

The author’s views are his or her own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commission or any Commissioner.


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