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Olga A. Zielinska, Allaire K. Welk, Emerson Murphy-Hill, Christopher B. Mayhorn.  2016.  A temporal analysis of persuasion principles in phishing emails. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 60th Annual Meeting.

Eight hundred eighty-seven phishing emails from Arizona State University, Brown University, and Cornell University were assessed by two reviewers for Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion: authority, social proof, liking/similarity, commitment/consistency, scarcity, and reciprocation. A correlational analysis of email characteristics by year revealed that the persuasion principles of commitment/consistency and scarcity have increased over time, while the principles of reciprocation and social proof have decreased over time. Authority and liking/similarity revealed mixed results with certain characteristics increasing and others decreasing. Results from this study can inform user training of phishing emails and help cybersecurity software to become more effective.