A Study on the Online Shopper's Self-Disclosure

By Kang, Yongsoo; Park, Jusik et al. | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, January 2012 | Go to article overview
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A Study on the Online Shopper's Self-Disclosure

Kang, Yongsoo, Park, Jusik, Liu, Jeanny, Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


Self-disclosure is known to be an important factor to the sound mind. Many psychologists and health professionals recommend self-disclosure as a method of improving well-being (Carmeron et al. 2009). Self-disclosure, is defined as the process of revealing personal information to another, is an essential component of building intimacy and trust (Holmes 1991). It is also associated with enhancing relationship quality as well as maintaining physical and psychological health (Pennebaker 1989). The concept of self-disclosure plays a vital role in relationship development and maintenance in which self-disclosure and relationship developments are "mutually transformative" (Derlega et al. 1993). The act of self-disclosure transforms the nature of the relationship and the relationship transforms the meaning and consequences of self-disclosure. Consequently, self-disclosure is viewed as a major factor in the development, maintenance, and deterioration of a relationship (Lee et al. 2008).

The act of self-disclosure can be applied to the relationship between online shopping malls and online consumers. Self-disclosure has significant meanings to the relationship between malls and online consumers in two dimensions. The first dimension is associated with customers' psychological purification and relationship building. Previously mentioned, self-disclosure is recommended as a method of improving well-being and a mean to develop trusting relationship. The second dimension is related with the importance of information to be useful to marketers. Most researchers agree that the key to successful marketing implementation in a "new world" is information (Deighton 1996; Forrest and Mizerski 1996; Schwartz 1997). It is said that a company with more information about its customers can satisfy customers' needs better than a company with less information.

However, recent studies find that the high perception of risk stemming from online disclosure of personal information is a primary reason that people choose not to participate in ecommerce (The Digital Future Report 2004). Perceptions of the risk of disclosing information during ecommerce transactions arise from consumer' felt lack of control about how their personal information will be used once it is divulged online (Metzger 2006).

There are different kinds of information we have to get. Some types of information are easier to obtain than others. In most retail environments, for example, information about individual transactions and purchase decisions can almost always be gathered easily, using sophisticated monitoring systems and well maintained databases. The advantage to these types of data collection systems is that they require little cooperation on the part of the consumers. Other types of information are less accessible, forcing companies to rely on more intrusive means to obtain important data. This typically involves requesting that consumers engage in some type of self-disclosure (Moon 2000). To date, relatively few studies have been investigated the reciprocal dynamics associated with self-disclosure in the online shopping malls. The present study represents an attempt to examine some of factors related with self-disclosure in a customer-online shopping mall context. By identifying factors affecting consumer's self-disclosure, we can understand the way to interact with our consumers. As marketing paradigms have shifted toward the need to build a relationship with consumers, marketers need to facilitate two-way communication in order to better understand them. We'll examine two different kinds of factors influencing consumer's self-disclosure--factors related shopping mall and internet media perception.


Self-disclosure is the telling of the previously unknown so that it becomes shared knowledge, the "process of making the self known to others" (Jourard and Lasakow 1958). More specifically, it is the quantity (breadth) and quality (depth) of personal information that an individual provides to another (Jourard 1971).

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