Exploring consumer lying in information-based exchanges
Abstract. Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of two studies that explored consumer misrepresentation (lying) during personal information disclosure in a commercial context. Disclosure strategies and mediating processes that might influence lying were also investigated. Design/methodology/approach – Two studies were carried out to examine the phenomenon of interest. The first study examined the extent of consumer lying in a consumer-commercial exchange context, the variation of lying about different kinds of personal information and a classification of consumers in terms of disclosure tendencies. The second study examined two mediating processes that may drive lying behavior: cost-benefit evaluations and fairness evaluations.Findings – The findings suggest that individuals tend to falsify some items more than they do others, and, even in information categories that are not “personally identifying,” there is a high level of misrepresentation. It was also found that consumers can be grouped based on their disclosure strategy (lying, omitting, truthfully disclosing), and the strategy appears to be related to perceived experience with disclosure. Finally, it was found that the cost- benefit of disclosure influences consumer lying, but fairness perceptions do not appear to influence lying behavior. Practical implications – Based on the findings in this study, a percentage of information appears to be faulty. This brings into question data quality, in that good marketing decisions presumes good data. Information-based marketing exchanges appear to be driven by cost-benefit evaluations. If this is the case, then marketers should strive to ethically develop elicitation strategies that either reduce the perceived cost of consumer disclosure or increase consumers’ perceptions of the value they receive in exchange for personal information. Originality/value – This paper provides useful information on consumer lying with regard to disclosing personal information in a commercial context.