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