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Exacerbating the privacy paradox: Investigating cognitive load’s impact on disclosure

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posted on 2021-12-08, 23:46 authored by Paul HarrisonPaul Harrison

Consumers have become the targets of a dual threat; more frequent requests for personal information and increased multitasking leading to distraction. This paper investigates the impact of cognitive load on the propensity to disclose personal information. A between-subjects experimental design was employed wherein participants completed a fictitious company questionnaire which asked for personal information whilst participants simultaneously remembered a 7-digit (Cognitive load condition) or 2-digit (Control condition) number. Upon completion of the questionnaire participants were asked to recall their number before answering several additional surveys and demographic questions. The results suggest that cognitive load influences the level of personal information disclosure in such a way that individuals tasked to remember a 7-digit number were more likely to disclose their personal information. Results also demonstrated the impact of information sensitivity, perceived risk, perceived worry, and need for cognition on three dependent variables: absolute disclosure, quality of disclosure, and response latency. The research adds greater nuance to the privacy paradox literature by proposing cognitive load as a key factor. Moreover, the results provide implications for marketing practitioners and policymakers regarding the acquisition of consumer’s personal information.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Commerce

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Marketing and International Business


Richard, James