Women Are More Likely Than Men to Disclose Negative Information

A new study led by Erin Carbone, visiting assistant professor in the department of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has found that men are less eager and likely to share negative information than women, while there was little difference when it comes to positive news.

To explore gender differences in the sharing of different types of information, the researchers carried out experiments with over 1,000 people. People self-reported times when they felt like they were “dying” to disclose information to others, then indicated whether they actually had shared the information. Although men and women generated similar numbers of instances of wanting to share positive information (e.g., about a promotion), men were far less likely to report wanting to share negative information (e.g., a failure to receive a promotion).

The authors suggest that this may be due to a greater concern among men over how other people will see them, resulting in a tendency to self-promote by sharing positive information about themselves and not revealing their negative experiences to others.

Dr. Carbone, the  first author of the study, said: “The results from our studies revealed a consistent, and to the best of our knowledge not previously identified, nuanced pattern, wherein the tendency for women to disclose more than men depends crucially on the nature of the information shared.”

Irene Scopelliti, professor of marketing and behavioral science at the Bayes Business School in London and a co-author of the study, added: “Disclosure is increasingly prevalent and permanent in the digital age. The advent of social media and digital communication channels has enabled unprecedented levels of information sharing, which is accompanied by an array of social and psychological consequences. Our results show that gender remains an important fault line when it comes to the desire and propensity to disclose negative information, and men may be differentially advantaged by, or vulnerable to, the consequences of information sharing compared to women.”

The full study, “He Said, she Said: Gender Differences in the Disclosure of Positive and Negative Information” was published on the website of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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