Consumers’ self-disclosure decisions and concerns : the effects of social exclusion and agent anthropomorphism




Lee, Jiyoung, Ph. D.

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Consumer data and privacy is becoming an increasingly important topic in marketing, as the collection and use of consumers’ personal information and instances of data breach are both on the rise. At the core of these recent shifts in the consumer data and privacy landscape is consumers’ concern with sharing their personal information. Past research on consumer privacy has focused on when and why consumers’ concerns are heightened and why people still provide their personal information despite the concerns. This dissertation extends the literature on consumer self-disclosure and privacy concerns and explores novel psychological and situational factors that influence consumers’ decision to disclose and concern with sharing their personal information to brands and marketers. In Essay 1, I focused on the influence of individual and situational differences – namely, the feeling of social exclusion – and examined at how experiencing social exclusion can increase consumers’ self-disclosure intentions toward brands. Specifically, I proposed that consumers will be more willing to share their information with a brand when they experience social exclusion, driven by their desire to forge social connections with the brand. Through five studies, I tested and confirmed these hypotheses and also demonstrated two boundary conditions. In Essay 2, I investigated how anthropomorphism of products and brands – a marketer-controlled variable – influences consumers’ concerns with sharing their personal information when there are threats to privacy in the environment. Specifically, I proposed that consumers’ concerns with information collection by agents (i.e., products or brands) would be influenced by the level of privacy threats in the environment and the anthropomorphic nature of the agent, and that the effects would be driven by the perception of control over the agent. I argued that, when threats to privacy are high (vs. low), individuals’ concern with sharing their data will increase for a non-anthropomorphic agent, but such effect will be attenuated for an anthropomorphic agent collecting the information. Furthermore, I expected that the difference in the perceived control over the agent would account for these effects. I tested and partially confirmed these hypotheses through five studies



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