Online social networks gather, store, process, and monetize personal information of their users. It is therefore important to understand in which situations people are willing to disclose private information. The most commonly applied theoretical framework to this class of problems in IS research is the privacy calculus. However, empirical research on the privacy calculus found strongly varying effect sizes of benefits and risks of information disclosure on the intention to disclose personal information. In this research we propose a theoretical explanation for this phenomenon. Based on regulatory focus theory and an experimental study with 59 participants, we develop theoretical arguments, that (1) the perception of high privacy risks evokes a state of heightened vigilance (prevention-focus) and (2) this heightened vigilance in turn changes the weightings of the benefits and risks in the privacy calculus. Results from a second survey-based study with 208 participants provide first insights that perceptions of high risks of information disclosure are correlated with a prevention focus, which in turn increases the negative effect of perceived risks and reduces the positive effect of perceived benefits on an individual’s intention to disclose personal information.
Brakemeier, Hendrik; Widjaja, Thomas; and Buxmann, Peter, "CALCULATING WITH DIFFERENT GOALS IN MIND – THE MODERATING ROLE OF THE REGULATORY FOCUS IN THE PRIVACY CALCULUS" (2016). Research Papers. 124.