Verena Distler

Human-Computer Interaction ResEarcher, Specialized IN Human-centered Privacy and Security (UPS)

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher in the research group for Usable Security and Privacy at the UniBw Munich.

My research at the intersection of psychology, human-computer interaction, and security/privacy uses social science research methods to understand the interplay between people and technology, focusing on security-related and otherwise deceptive interactions with technology. I use these insights to develop human-centered solutions against cyber threats. My research interests are situated in usable (or user-centered) privacy and security.

I earned my PhD in psychology at the University of Luxembourg, focusing on human-computer interaction and human-centered security. During my PhD, I was a visiting researcher at Carnegie Mellon University’s Cylab. Previously, I obtained a master’s degree in social sciences at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France.

The best way to reach me is email: verena.distler AT

Last updated: March 2024


5 additional papers under submission.

  • Chen, X., Sacré, M., Lenzini, G., Greiff, S., Sergeeva, A* & Distler, V.*. (2024). The Effects of Group Discussion and Role-playing Training on Self-efficacy, Support-seeking, and Reporting Phishing Emails: Evidence from a Mixed-design Experiment. ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2024).
    *Both authors have contributed equally to this research.
  • Tuncer, R., Sergeeva, A., Bongard-Blanchy, K., Distler, V., Doublet, S., & Koenig, V. (2023). Running out of Time(rs): Effects of Scarcity Cues on Perceived Task Load, Perceived Benevolence and User Experience on E-Commerce Sites. Behaviour & Information Technology, 1–19.
  • Mukherjee, S., Rohles, B., Distler, V., Lenzini, G., & Koenig, V. (2023). The effects of privacy-non-invasive interventions on cheating prevention and user experience in unproctored online assessments: An empirical study. Computers & Education, 207, 104925.
  • Distler, V. (2023) The Influence of Context on Response to Spear-Phishing Attacks: an In-Situ Deception Study. ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2023).
  • Sergeeva, A., Rohles, B., Distler, V., Koenig, V. (2023) “We Need a Big Revolution in Email Advertising”: Users’ Perception of Persuasion in Permission-based Advertising Emails. ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2023).
  • Distler, V., Abdrabou, Y., Dietz, F., Alt, F. (2023) Triggering Empathy out of Malicious Intent: The Role of Empathy in Social Engineering Attacks. CHI2023 Workshop EmpathiCH: Unravelling Empathy-Centric Design.
  • Distler, V., Fassl, M., Habib, H., Krombholz, K., Lenzini, G., Lallemand, C., Koenig, V., & Cranor, L. F. (2023). Empirical Research Methods in Usable Privacy and Security. In N. Gerber, A. Stöver, & K. Marky (Eds.), Human Factors in Privacy Research (pp. 29–53). Springer International Publishing.
  • Chen, X., Hedman, A., Distler, V., & Koenig, V. (2023). Do persuasive designs make smartphones more addictive? – A mixed-methods study on Chinese university students. Computers in Human Behavior Reports, 100299.
  • Rohles, B., Doublet, S., Bongard-Blanchy, K., Distler, V., Fourrier, V., Sergeeva, A., Koenig, V. (2022) “Do we need an entire course about it?”: Evaluating Two Years of Teaching HCI in Computer Science. Annual Symposium on HCI Education (EduCHI’22).
  • Bongard-Blanchy, K., Sterckx, J.-L., Rossi, A., Distler, V., Rivas, S., & Koenig, V. (2022). An (Un)Necessary Evil—Users’ (Un)Certainty about Smartphone App Permissions and Implications for Privacy Engineering. 2022 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS&PW), 01–08.
  • Distler, V., Gutfleisch, T., Lallemand, C., Lenzini, G., and Koenig, V. (2022) Complex, but in a good way? How to Represent Encryption to Non-Experts through Text and Visuals — Evidence from Expert Co-Creation and a Vignette Experiment. Computers in Human Behavior Reports.
  • Distler, V., Lenzini, G., Lallemand, C., Koenig, V., (2020) The Framework of Security-Enhancing Friction: How UX Can Help Users Behave More Securely. New Security Paradigms Workshop 2020 (NSPW 2020)
  • Distler, V., Lallemand, C., Koenig, V., (2020) Making Encryption Feel Secure: Investigating how Descriptions of Encryption Impact Perceived Security. EuroUSEC, The 5th European Workshop on Usable Security
  • Distler, V., Lallemand, C., Koenig, V., (2020) How Acceptable Is This? How User Experience Factors Can Broaden our Understanding of the Acceptance of Privacy Trade- Offs. Computers in Human Behavior.
  • Distler, V., Zollinger, M.-L., Lallemand, C., Roenne, P., Ryan, P. Y. A., Koenig, V., (2019) Security – Visible, Yet Unseen? How Displaying Security Mechanisms Impacts User Experience and Perceived Security. ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2019).
  • Zollinger, M. L., Distler, V., Roenne, P., Ryan, P., Lallemand, C., & Koenig, V. (2019). User Experience Design for E-Voting: How mental models align with security mechanisms. Electronic Voting.
  • Distler, V., Lallemand, C., Bellet, T., (2018) Acceptability and Acceptance of Autonomous Mobility on Demand: the Impact of an Immersive Experience. ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2018).
  • Distler, V., Lallemand, C., Koenig, V., (2018) A UX Approach to Privacy and Security: the Impact of User, Contextual and System-Related Factors. Extended Abstract Presented at the Workshop on Exploring Individual Differences in Privacy (CHI 2018).
  • Distler, V., Lallemand, C., Koenig, V., (2018) Understanding human need fulfilment to support the design of secure experiences. Doctoral Consortium Paper at the 10th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction – NordiCHI ’18 (Oslo, Norway, 2018)

Full list of publications on Google Scholar.


2023 – Honorable Mention Award at CLIHC 2023 for our paper “The Perceived Influence of E-Shopping Cues on Customers’ Buying Decisions'”

2021 – My PhD Thesis was awarded the Excellent PhD Thesis Award of the Doctoral Program in Psychology at the University of Luxembourg.

2018 – My Master Thesis was awarded the 1st prize of the “Prix du memoire digital” (best Master Thesis in digital field), based on the manuscript and a pitch.

2012 – I was awarded a merit scholarship for excellent academic achievements for my Bachelor’s degree at IMC FH Krems.


  • Postdoctoral Researcher, University of the Bundeswehr Munich, Germany. (Nov 2022 – )
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg. (Oct 2021 – Oct 2022)
  • Doctoral Researcher, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg. (Oct 2017 – Oct 2021)
  • Master Thesis Researcher, French Institute of Science for Transport (IFSTTAR), Lyon, France. (Sep 2016 – May 2017)
  • UX Design Intern in Complex System Modelling, Cosmo Tech, Lyon, France. (June – Oct 2016)
  • SEO and Content Consultant, Talentrocket GmbH, Munich, Germany. (Sep 2014 – Jul 2016)


  • PhD in Psychology / Human-Computer Interaction; HCI Research Group; University of Luxembourg (2017 – 2021)
    • Advisor: Prof. Vincent Koenig
  • Visiting PhD Student; Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) CUPS (Nov 2019 – Dec 2019)
    • Visiting PhD Student with Prof. Lorrie Cranor.
  • Master’s Degree in Social Sciences; specialization in information and communication; ENS de Lyon (2015 – 2017)
  • Bachelor’s Degree in International Management; University FH Krems (2011 – 2014)
    • Exchange semester in Paris, France
    • Industry internship in Toronto, Canada

Additional Training

  • 2022 – Statistical Modeling for Multilevel and Complex Data.
    • Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis, University of Essex.
  • 2022 – Advanced Survey Data Analysis and Survey Experiments.
    • Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis, University of Essex.
  • 2021 – Causal Inference and Experiments in the Social Sciences.
    • Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis, University of Essex.
  • 2019 – Collecting and Analyzing Big Data.
    • Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies, University of Oslo.
  • 2018 – Usability, Cybercrime and Ethics of Cybersecurity.
    • SecHuman Summer School, Ruhr University Bochum.


  • Autumn trimester 2023 – Software Ergonomics
    • For Bachelor students in Informatics at UniBw. I independently designed the curriculum, organized and taught this lecture. Taught in German.
  • SS 2022 – Introduction to Systematic Literature Reviews
    • Lecture and workshop for PhD Candidates (half-day).
  • WS 2021/2022, 2020/2021, 2019/2020 – Human-Computer Interaction.
    • Semester-long introduction to HCI for Bachelor students in Computer Science. Taught together with colleagues, in English.

Skills and Methods

  • Qualitative user research: Focus Groups, Interviews, User Testing, Observation, Co-creation methods
  • Quantitative user research: Experimental Design, Survey Design, Survey Experiments
  • Statistics software: R and RStudio, SPSS, some STATA
  • Qualitative analysis software: MAXQDA

Mentoring/Student Supervision

I am / have been involved in the supervision of 16 students (Bachelor to PhD).


  • Program committee Workshop on Accessible Security and Privacy (WASP 24)
  • Associate chair DIS, 2024
  • Invited Talks Chair, Mensch und Computer (MuC) 2023
  • Program Committee at USEC 2022
  • Poster PC at SOUPS 2021, 2022
  • Reviewer at CHI 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Program Committee at EuroUSEC 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
  • Reviewer at Computers in Human Behavior, 2020
  • Program Committee at STAST 2020
  • Reviewer at Interact 2019
  • Student Volunteer at ixDA Lyon 2018
  • Conference translator at World Information Architecture Day 2016


German Fluent (native language)
English Fluent (fluent; daily professional use)
French Fluent (fluent; daily professional use)

Get in touch with me