To share or not to share? Adolescents' self-disclosure about peer relationships on Facebook: An application of the Prototype Willingness Model

Ellen Van Gool, Joris Van Ouytsel, Koen Ponnet, Michel Walrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adolescents are the most fervent users of social network sites, hereby disclosing a lot of personal information. In this study, we used the Prototype Willingness Model to examine whether the sharing of personal information about peer relationships follows a rational and intended pathway, or a more impulsive unconscious decision-making pathway. Data from a sample of 1314 adolescents (M = 16.68, SD = 1.16) were analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling, to assess the predictive power of the reasoned pathway (attitude and subjective norm of friends, parents and teachers), and the social-reaction pathway (prototype favorability and similarity). Results showed the unique importance of the reasoned pathway in predicting adolescents' disclosing behavior, with attitude as the strongest predictor. Nevertheless, the social-reaction pathway also significantly contributed to the prediction of the disclosing behavior. In sum, adolescents' self-disclosure on social network sites is mostly the result of a rational, deliberated process, but can be influenced by a more emotional spontaneous response to a given online situation. Therefore, policy makers, practitioners or parents might stress the possible opportunities and risks that disclosing personal information can entail, so adolescents themselves develop a more critical attitude toward sharing their information online.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-239
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume44
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Model
  • Prototype
  • Self-disclosure
  • Social network sites
  • Willingness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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