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Men are less likely to share negative information about themselves

Men are less likely to share their negative information compared to women, according to a study conducted by experts at Carnegie Mellon University, Bayes Business School, and Bocconi University.

The researchers suggest that this gender-based discrepancy may be due to a greater concern among men over how other people perceive them. This, they explained, results in a tendency to self-promote by sharing positive information about themselves and not revealing their negative information to others.

Gender differences 

“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,” said study first author Dr. Erin Carbone.

“These findings can help make sense of the existing literature, as well as clarify some existing stereotypes, around gender differences in disclosure.”

The digital age

In an era dominated by digital communication, the relevance of these findings cannot be overstated. The research is among the first to address how gender impacts the sharing of information in the digital landscape. 

The study breaks new ground by using the context of contemporary social media habits to evaluate its hypotheses.

How the research was conducted 

Through a series of three experiments involving more than 1,000 participants, the researchers scrutinized the tendencies to share or withhold different types of news. 

The first experiment asked participants to recall instances where they were eager to share information and whether they acted on this impulse. 

Positive news

Men reported similar frequencies to women when it came to positive news, such as job promotions, but were significantly less likely to share negative news, such as being passed over for a promotion.

Further studies quantified these desires to disclose and assessed the willingness of participants to share positive or negative information on various subjects. 

The results showed that women generally felt more satisfied with their level of disclosure, while men more commonly held back on sharing thoughts and feelings that perhaps would have been beneficial to disclose.

Full disclosure 

“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,” said study co-author Professor Irene Scopelliti.

“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.”

Study implications

The study suggests that men may either benefit or suffer more from the impacts of information sharing, posing a new area for both psychological and sociological inquiry. 

This could have far-reaching implications, from personal relationships to professional settings, where communication and openness are often key to success and well-being.

The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

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