Research Highlights - May 2020

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How can you use the findings from the latest research studies to improve your performance and the performance of your organization?  We’ll provide the highlights and key ideas you won’t get anywhere else.

According to new research from the University of Pennsylvania published in the Journal of Marketing the device a person uses to communicate can affect the extent to which he or she is willing to disclose intimate or personal information about themselves.

The research indicates that people are more willing to reveal personal information about themselves online when using their smartphones than when using desktop computers.  For example, Tweets and reviews composed on smartphones are more likely to be written from the perspective of the first person, to disclose negative emotions, and to discuss the writer’s private family and personal friends. Likewise, when consumers receive an online ad that requests personal information (such as phone number and income), they are more likely to provide it when the request is received on their smartphone compared to their desktop or laptop computer.

Why do smartphones have this effect on behavior?  Writing on one’s smartphone often lowers the barriers to revealing certain types of sensitive information for two reasons; one stemming from the unique form characteristics of phones and the second from the emotional associations that consumers tend to hold with their device.”

First, one of the most distinguishing features of phones is a small size; something that makes viewing and creating content generally more difficult compared with desktop computers.  Because of this difficulty, when writing or responding on a smartphone, a person tends to narrowly focus on completing the task and become less cognizant of external factors that would normally inhibit self-disclosure, such as concerns about what others would do with the information. Smartphone users know this effect well — when using their phones in public places, they often fixate so intently on its content that they become oblivious to what is going on around them.

The second reason people tend to be more self-disclosing on their phones lies in the feelings of comfort and familiarity people...

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