Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 27 Number 4 2011 pp. 163-200

Privacy Concerns Versus Desire for Interpersonal Awareness in Driving the Use of Self-Disclosure Technologies: The Case of Instant Messaging in Two Cultures

Lowry, Paul Benjamin, Cao, Jinwei, and Everard, Andrea

ABSTRACT: Social computing technologies typically have multiple features that allow users to reveal their personal information to other users. Such self-disclosure (SD) behavior is generally considered positive and beneficial in interpersonal communication and relationships. Using a newly proposed model based on social exchange theory, this paper investigates and empirically validates the relationships between SD technology use and culture. In particular, we explore the effects of culture on information privacy concerns and the desire for online interpersonal awareness, which influence attitudes toward, intention to use, and actual use of SD technologies. Our model was tested using arguably the strongest social computing technology for online SD— instant messaging (IM)—with users from China and the United States. Our findings reveal that cross-cultural dimensions are significant predictors of information privacy concerns and desire for online awareness, which are, in turn, found to be predictors of attitude toward, intention to use, and actual use of IM. Overall, our proposed model is applicable to both cultures. Our findings enhance the theoretical understanding of the effects of culture and privacy concerns on SD technologies and provide practical suggestions for developers of SD technologies, such as adding additional control features to applications.

Key words and phrases: instant messaging, privacy, self-disclosure, self-disclosure technologies, social computing technologies, social exchange theory, theory of reasoned action