Understanding Self-Disclosure in Electronic Communities: An Exploratory Model of Privacy Risk Beliefs, Reciprocity, and Trust
From Virtual Communities
Clay Posey - Louisiana Tech University, Selwyn Ellis - Louisiana Tech University
Electronic communities are at the forefront of many individuals’ personal lives. Social networking communities such as Facebook.com and MySpace.com afford personal communication to either the entire world or a specified group of individuals. Little research, however, has examined the underlying factors which may play a role in an individual’s contribution to those communities. More specifically, researchers need to answer the following question: what conditions must be satisfied for an individual to disclose personal and/or private information about themselves in an online community? The authors address this question by applying both Communication Privacy Management and Social Penetration theories from the communication literature in an exploratory model of individual self-disclosure. Through a Partial Least Squares analysis of data collected from 123 Facebook.com and MySpace.com users, findings show strong relationships between privacy risk beliefs, reciprocity, and trust in individuals’ decisions to engage in the five dimensions of self-disclosure in electronic communities.