Collective Exposure: Peer Effects in Voluntary Disclosure of Personal Data

  • Rainer Böhme
  • Stefanie Pötzsch
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7035)


This paper reports empirical evidence for peer effects in privacy behavior using field data from online social lending. Our content analysis and regression models show that individuals copy observable behavior of others in decisions on a) how much to write about oneself, b) whether to share custom pictures, c) what personal data to disclose, and d) how identifiable to present oneself. We frame this finding in the theory of descriptive social norms and analyze moderating effects, such as similarity of context, social proximity, and mimicry of success factors. The presence of peer effects in disclosure behavior can explain the formation and change of apparent social norms and attitudes towards privacy.


Personal Data Voluntary Disclosure Loan Application Loan Amount Social Proximity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rainer Böhme
    • 1
  • Stefanie Pötzsch
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Information SystemsUniversity of MünsterGermany
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceTechnische Universität DresdenGermany

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