Privacy and Self-Disclosure in Social Relationships


Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23508.


Privacy is viewed as a process of boundary regulation, controlling how much (or how little) contact an individual maintains with others. Self-disclosure involves the verbal transmission of information. Adjustment of self-disclosure outputs and inputs is boundary regulation; the extent of control one maintains over this exchange of information contributes to the amount of privacy one has in a social relationship. Regulation of interpersonal boundaries affects the kinds of relationships we maintain with others (as in friendships and power relationships). There also are implications for personality functioning. Reconceptualizing self-disclosure as a form of boundary adjustment in the maintenance of privacy may provide a useful framework for integrating the self-disclosure literature.