The Best of Strangers: Context Dependent Willingness to Divulge Personal Information

44 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2009  

Leslie K. John

Harvard Business School

Alessandro Acquisti

Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Date Written: July 6, 2009

Abstract

Contrary to the assumption in much social science research that people have stable, coherent, preferences with respect to privacy, we find that concern about privacy, measured by divulgence of private information, is highly sensitive to contextual factors. We report results from 3 experiments, one of which was designed to elevate privacy concerns (paradoxically through assurances) and two of which were designed to suppress privacy concerns. This research raises serious questions about whether individuals will be able to navigate the increasingly complex issues of privacy in a self-interested fashion.

Keywords: Privacy, Behavioral Economics, Laboratory Experiment, Consumer Research, Disclosure

JEL Classification: C91

Suggested Citation

John, Leslie K. and Acquisti, Alessandro and Loewenstein, George, The Best of Strangers: Context Dependent Willingness to Divulge Personal Information (July 6, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1430482 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1430482

Leslie K. John (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Alessandro Acquisti

Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-9853 (Phone)
412-268-5339 (Fax)

George F. Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-8787 (Phone)
412-268-6938 (Fax)

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