Consumers' Rules of Engagement in Online Information Exchanges



This research reveals three perceptual themes or “rules of engagement” used by consumers when personal information is requested in online exchanges. The themes—the criticality of the exchange, felt invasion, and fair play—underlie the choice of responses from compliance to blatant falsification of information to company requests. Identified from consumers' in-depth interviews, these themes, along with the range and variations of response behaviors, reveal that consumers' motivations vary from very simple rules to more customized rules. Our findings may help firms understand consumers' interpretation of online informational requests better and identify factors that influence how consumers respond.