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Published Online: 8 September 2015

Rubbernecking Effect of Intimate Information on Twitter: When Getting Attention Works Against Interpersonal Attraction

Publication: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 18, Issue Number 9


Social networking sites offer individuals an opportunity to document and share information about themselves, as well as engaging in social browsing to learn about others. As a micro-blogging site within which users often share information publicly, Twitter may be a particularly suitable venue that can help satisfy both of these motivations. This study investigates how viewers react to disclosure of intimate information on Twitter. Specifically, the impact of disclosure intimacy is studied on attention that viewers pay to a Twitter page, reduction in their uncertainty about the attributes of the page owner, and their interpersonal attraction to the owner of the page. A total of 618 adult online panel members viewed one of six Twitter pages that contained either low-intimacy or high-intimacy tweets. Analyses indicated that viewers exposed to the Twitter pages containing high-intimate information paid more attention to the pages, were more confident about the attributions they could make about the page owner, yet were less willing to pursue further socialization with the page owner. Furthermore, attributional confidence mediated and perceived similarity moderated the relationship between disclosure intimacy and interpersonal attraction. This interaction between disclosure intimacy and perceived similarity was such that viewers who considered the page owner to be similar (dissimilar) to themselves were more (less) socially attracted to page owners who disclosed intimate information. These findings suggest that while intimate information shared on a Twitter page draws attention, this does not necessarily result in further socialization with the page owner—an effect we named as the “rubbernecking effect” of intimate information.

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Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 18Issue Number 9September 2015
Pages: 506 - 513
PubMed: 26348810


Published online: 8 September 2015
Published in print: September 2015


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Lemi Baruh
Department of Media and Visual Arts, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Zeynep Cemalcılar
Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey.


Address correspondence to:Dr. Lemi BaruhDepartment of Media and Visual ArtsCollege of Social Sciences and HumanitiesKoç UniversityTurkey
E-mail: [email protected]

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No competing financial interests exist.

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