Disclosure Management

The following items can be used to assess individual’s level of disclosure management in various contexts and environments. The scale is copyrighted but you are free to use it without permission as long as you give credit to the authors of the scale by citing the following article:

Masur, P. K & Scharkow, M. (2016). Disclosure management on social network sites: Individual privacy perceptions and user-directed privacy strategies. Social Media + Society, 2(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116634368 [PDF]


Variable coding instructions

We define disclosure management as follows:

The proposed concept of disclosure management can be classified as a privacy management strategy based on the principle of data parsimony […] People thus do not generally disclose private information. Many conclusions in previous research are nonetheless based on the premise that the more SNS users disclose (no matter if private or not), the more privacy they lose. From a psychological point of view, it seems more reasonable to assume that the individual only fears the risk of a privacy violation if the information being shared is actually perceived as private. As people attribute different levels of privacy to different information depending on their individual privacy preferences, they should consequently disclose information perceived as private less often than non-sensitive information (p. 4).

In order to quantify this concept, we first need to assess how private people evaluate several information types AND how often they share these information in the context that we want to investigate (e.g., Facebook status updates, private messages, etc.). In a second step, we then need to compute the within-person correlation (i.e., the relationship between the privacy perception and the disclosure frequency for each person). The size of the relationship is then the quantified score of disclosure management. The  relationship should generally be negative (implying that people share information they deem more private less often than information they deem less private). Depending on the research question, it could make sense to reverse the score so that it represents the strength of disclosure management (the higher the score, the stronger the disclosure management1).

Privacy Perception

What would you say, how private are the following things?

  • My personal feelings
  • My deepest fears and concerns
  • Things that I am proud of
  • Details from my relationships with other people
  • My hobbies or my work
  • Changes in my life (e.g., marriage, birth,…)
  • My political, ethical, or religious opinion
  • What I like or enjoy (e.g., music, books, movies)
  • Photos of myself

Note: Scale ranging from 1 = Not at all private to 5 = Very private.

Disclosure Frequency

How often do you share the following things in [private messages on Facebook / WhatsApp chats / status updates on Facebook…]?

  • My personal feelings
  • My deepest fears and concerns
  • Things that I am proud of
  • Details from my relationships with other people
  • My hobbies or my work
  • Changes in my life (e.g., marriage, birth,…)
  • My political, ethical, or religious opinion
  • What I like or enjoy (e.g., music, books, movies)
  • Photos of myself

Note: Scale ranging from 1 = Not at all private to 5 = Very private.

Footnotes

  1. We did this in the publication for easier interpretation.