research articles

Anxiously attached: Personality predictors of privacy attitudes, trust, and willingness to share information on the internet




Attachment style, anxiously attached, sharing attitudes, sharing behavior, Internet, privacy, trust


Privacy concerns surrounding Internet and technology use are higher now than ever, yet, people continue to use the Internet and Internet-connected technologies to share information without coercion and often with recipients they do not have a relationship with. Our research addresses how people’s personality, particularly two personality dimensions (anxiety and avoidance) together known as attachment style, affects their self-reported willingness to share and their actual sharing behavior. We conducted two studies on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (N=984). Study 1 surveyed 500 participants (193 women, 304 men, 3 transgender) aged 20-79 (Mdn = 35, SD = 11.65); and Study 2 surveyed 484 participants (223 women, 260 men, 1 transgender) aged 19-78 (Mdn = 35; SD = 11.69). Multiple regression analyses controlling for demographics and the personality factors neuroticism and extraversion show that anxiously attached individuals are more concerned (ßs = .24 and .33) than less anxiously attached individuals about their private data being disclosed, yet paradoxically, they report more trust in the security of digital communications (ßs = .21 and .34), making them more likely to share personal information on the Internet (ßs = .26 and .22). This research bears theoretical implications (e.g., understanding the psychology of sharing behavior), as well as practical ones (e.g., for tailoring existing privacy and sharing controls to individuals based on their personality characteristics).





research articles