The Privacy Dictionary | Development | Download Requests | Try it out online | Give us Feedback

The Privacy Dictionary

The privacy dictionary contains a list of words that people use when talking about privacy. The words are organised across 8 linguistic categories that measure different dimensions of privacy. The motivation for creating this dictionary has been (a) to offer privacy researchers with an unobtrusive way to measure privacy through language (b) to enable quantitative analysis alongside the qualitative methods often used to answer questions around privacy. The privacy dictionary is in a format compatible with the text analysis program LIWC so that researchers can import the privacy dictionary as a custom dictionary in LIWC.

The dictionary categories are:

NegativePrivacy (120 words or phrases; e.g., judgmental, troubled, interfere) captures the antecedents and consequences of privacy violations. It includes words that relate back to privacy concerns, risks, as well as judgments about the source and type of violation.


NormsRequisites (33 words or phrases; e.g., consent, respect, discrete) encapsulates the norms, beliefs and expectations in relation to achieving privacy. This category can be used to appraise the presence and type of norms that govern each context.


OutcomeState (39 words or phrases; e.g., freedom, separation, alone) includes words that describe the static behavioural states and the outcomes that are served through privacy.


PrivateSecret (22 words or phrases; e.g., secret, intimate, data) includes descriptors or words that express the ‘content’ of privacy. This category can be used to understand precisely what aspects people regard as being private.


Intimacy (22 words or phrases, e.g., trust, friendship, confide) comprises of words that portray and measure different facets of small group privacy. It includes words that refer to the psychological requisites in opening up to another person, as well as the emotional closeness that develops between people.


Law (27 words or phrases; e.g., confidentiality, policy, offence) includes words employed to describe legal definitions of privacy.


Restriction (63 words or phrases, e.g. conceal, lock, exclude) expresses the closed, restrictive and regulatory behaviours employed in maintaining privacy and it can be used to measure the behaviours that people take in order to protect their privacy.


OpenVisible (46 words or phrases, e.g. post, display, accessible) includes words that represent the dialectic openness of privacy.

The privacy dictionary was designed by Asimina Vasalou, Alastair Gill, Chrysanthi Papoutsi and Fadhila Mazanderani. It was originally funded by the EPSRC project PVNETS. Asimina Vasalou is the main contact person.