Dying to Divulge: The Determinants of, and Relationship Between, Desired and Actual Disclosure

123 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2020

See all articles by Erin Carbone

Erin Carbone

University of Pittsburgh

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Date Written: May 28, 2020

Abstract

Studies suggest that sharing thoughts and information with others may be inherently pleasurable and confer health, psychological, and social benefits to the discloser. At the same time, self-disclosure exposes individuals to scrutiny and the risk of rejection and reputational damage, particularly with the advent of digital applications and social media outlets that promote public, and often permanent, disclosing. In an effort to understand the tradeoffs that underlie the decision to disclose, we introduce a distinction between the propensity to disclose and the psychological desire to disclose and present a preliminary investigation into when and why these two constructs diverge. Findings from two exploratory studies reveal the types of information that individuals are most eager to share, as well as the contextual factors and individual characteristics that moderate the desire to share and the circumstances under which this desire is most likely to translate into actual sharing. We replicate findings from prior research that the decision to disclose is a function of content emotionality and valence, but find that the propensity to withhold negative information is most pronounced when the information is about oneself than about others, and that gender differences in disclosure are largely driven by the tendency for men to withhold negative, but not positive, information. Additionally, we capture motives and traits, many of them previously unexplored in the disclosure context, to model the underlying decision-making process that leads to information sharing and distinguish between the act of sharing information and the psychological desire that differentially engender disclosing behavior.

Keywords: Disclosure, Information, Privacy

JEL Classification: D03, D80

Suggested Citation

Carbone, Erin and Loewenstein, George F., Dying to Divulge: The Determinants of, and Relationship Between, Desired and Actual Disclosure (May 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3613232 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3613232

Erin Carbone

University of Pittsburgh

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

George F. Loewenstein (Contact Author)

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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