Grant / January 2020

Privacy, Disclosure, and Social Exchange Theory

The privacy of one’s personal information—the choice of when to disclose it and to whom, how one maintains control over it, and the risks of disclosure—continues to be a topic of much debate and research. My research draws on a theoretical orientation from the social sciences—social exchange theory (SET)—to explore personal information disclosure, looking specifically at the context of an exchange relationship between an individual and the company or service receiving the information. This project explores ‘new meanings of privacy’ by examining novel aspects of personal information disclosure, a decision-making process that also has a direct impact on the cybersecurity agenda. Given that many of the problems in cybersecurity originate with human behavior, this research agenda works to expand the understanding of the dynamics of personal information disclosure beyond a focus on individual cognition, incorporating the social and organizational mechanics that also influence decision-making.