Self-disclosure in social networking sites: the role of perceived cost, perceived benefits and social influence

Christy Cheung, Zach Lee, Tommy Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the relative impacts of perceived cost, perceived benefits, and social influence on self-disclosure behaviors in social networking sites under an integrated theoretical framework. Design/methodology/approach – Building upon social exchange theory and privacy calculus theory, an integrated model was developed. The model was tested empirically using a sample of 405 social networking site’s users. Users were required to complete a survey regarding self-disclosure behaviors in Facebook. Findings – The results indicate that social influence is the factor which exhibits the strongest effect on self-disclosure in social networking sites, followed by perceived benefits. Surprisingly, perceived privacy risk does not have any significant impact on self-disclosure. Research limitations/implications – The results inform researchers about the importance to incorporate social influence factors and cultural factors into future online self-disclosure study. Practical implications – The results suggest that users focus on the benefits as well as social influence when they decide to reveal personal information in social networking sites, but pay less attention to the potential privacy risks. Educators are advised to launch educational programs to raise students’ awareness to the potential risks of self-disclosure in social networking sites. Service providers of social networking sites are encouraged to provide intuitive privacy indices showing users the levels of privacy protection. Originality/value – This paper is one of the first to develop and empirically tests an integrated model of self-disclosure in social networking sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-299
JournalInternet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2015


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