Neglecting Long-Term Risks: Self-Disclosure on Social Media and Its Relation to Individual Decision-Making Tendencies and Problematic Social-Networks-Use

Social media including social-networking sites (SNS) encourage people to disclose personal information via profiles and posts. It is assumed that positive short-term effects and immediate feedback (e.g., getting Likes) have a rewarding nature and may complicate the rational weighing of possible negative long-term consequences related to self-disclosure. Dual-process theories assume risky behaviors to result from more impulsive/short-term oriented compared to reflective/long-term oriented decision making. The current laboratory study investigates whether the extent of online self-disclosure is explained by the general tendency to choose short-term rewards by neglecting long-term risks as well as by tendencies toward a problematic social-networks-use. Participants (N = 88) were asked to log into their Facebook account to answer questions about their actual self-disclosing behavior. Furthermore, they performed an experimental decision-making task and answered a questionnaire assessing problematic social-networks-use. The quantity of self-disclosure via posts was negatively associated with advantageous decision making and positively with tendencies toward a problematic social-networks-use. The findings indicate that high self-disclosure via posts is associated with a general tendency to neglect long-term risks. Moreover, a problematic social-networks-use can additionally increase individual’s self-disclosure via posts.


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