Self-Disclosure Behavior on Social Networking Web Sites

Eleanor T. Loiacono
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 19, Number 2, Winter 2014-15, pp. 6-94.


The pervasiveness of social networking has sparked many researchers and practitioners’ interest in the individuals’ behavior on these networks. This paper investigates specifically the willingness of people to disclose personal information on a social networking site (SNS). Founded on social exchange theory (SET), the proposed model includes “the Big Five” personality traits of openness to experience, neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness. The results reveal that perceived risk and perceived benefits, as well as extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, have a strong impact on a person’s decision to self-disclose. The contributions to theory are an expanded SET model with greater explanatory power and a better understanding of the uniqueness of SNSs compared to other information systems. The results offer practical insights. Personality traits are significant contributors to people’s attitudes, and thus managers and marketers need to consider them in situations when self-disclosing of information is critical to the organization’s success, such as with SNSs.

Key Words and Phrases: Online self-disclosure, personality traits, risk, social exchange theory, social network sites, social networks.