Wishful Thinking and IT Threat Avoidance: An Extension to the Technology Threat Avoidance Theory


In this research, we report the empirical findings of a vignette study designed to examine how volitional computer users cope with information technology (IT) threats based on the technology threat avoidance theory (TTAT). We incorporate the construct of wishful thinking, an important form of emotion-focused coping behavior that is rarely studied, along with problem-focused coping into a research model to examine the interaction between the two coping approaches. The results reveal that wishful thinking weakens the effect of perceived avoidability on avoidance motivation. In turn, wishful thinking is positively affected by perceived threat and this effect is stronger when a user has low risk tolerance. Although perceived avoidability can reduce wishful thinking, its effect is fully mediated by perceived threat. This study highlights the important role of wishful thinking in affecting users' security behavior. It not only corroborates, but also extends the extant propositions of TTAT, thus making a significant contribution to IT security research and practice.

Publication Title

IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management