Narrative Passwords: Potential for Story-Based User Authentication Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (M.S., Psychology) -- University of Idaho, 2015 | This paper explores alternatives to traditional alphanumeric passwords. Users are asked to remember random information in different cognitive modalities (i.e., words vs. images) to improve password retention and thus increase security. We present a summary of the literature on current approaches to passwords and the relevant literature on cognition and memory and propose a new “Narrative Passwords” authentication method. Randomly chosen verbal password elements are embedded in a short stories to make the information more memorable. Through several pilot studies we optimized the presentation of narrative passwords and which verbal elements are most memorable. In the main study, we compared Narrative Passwords to both a traditional, randomly generated alphanumeric password and a recently developed graphical password system, Composite Scene Analysis (Johnson & Werner, 2008). Our results indicate that Narrative Passwords are not as memorable as similarly graphical passwords but the systems could be combined to increase their effectiveness.

publication date

  • June 1, 2015