Herbert, C., Marschin, V., Erb, B., Meißner, D., Aufheimer, M. and Boesch, C. 2021. Are you willing to self-disclose for science? Effects of Privacy Awareness (PA) and Trust in Privacy (TIP) on self-disclosure of personal and health data in online scientific studies -an experimental study. Frontiers in Big Data
. (Dec. 2021). [accepted for publication]
Digital interactions via the internet have become the norm rather than the exception in our global society. Concerns have been raised about human-centered privacy and the often unreflected self-disclosure behavior of internet users. This study on human-centered privacy follows two major aims: first, investigate the willingness of university students as digital natives to self-disclose private data and information from psychological domains including their person, social and academic life, their mental health as well as their health behavior habits when taking part as a volunteer in a scientific online survey. Second, examine to what extent the participants’ self-disclosure behavior can be modulated by experimental induction of Privacy Awareness (PA) or Trust in Privacy (TIP) or a combination of both (PA and TIP). In addition, the role of human factors such as personality traits, gender or mental health (e.g., self-reported depressive symptoms) on self-disclosure behavior was explored and the influence of PA and TIP induction were considered. Participants were randomly assigned to four experimental groups. In group A (n = 50, 7 males), privacy awareness (PA) was induced implicitly by the inclusion of privacy concern items. In group B (n = 43, 6 males), trust in privacy (TIP) was experimentally induced by buzzwords and by visual TIP primes promising safe data storage. Group C (n = 79, 12 males) received both, PA and TIP induction, while group D (n = 55, 9 males) served as control group. Participants had the choice to answer the survey items by agreeing to one of a number of possible answers including the options to refrain from self-disclosure by choosing the response options “don’t know” or “no answer”. Self-disclosure among participants was high irrespective of experimental group and irrespective of psychological domains of the information provided. The results of this study suggest that willingness of volunteers to self-disclose private data in a scientific online study cannot simply be overruled or changed by any of the chosen experimental privacy manipulations. The present results extend the previous literature on human-centered privacy and despite limitations can give important insights into self-disclosure behavior of young people and the privacy paradox.