Two studies are presented that examine disclosure of sensitive information and personalization
in Internet-based surveys. In the first study, the impact of a personalized salutation on
two forms of non-disclosure to a sensitive personal question (salary level) is tested. The results
revealed that a personalized salutation tends to increase levels of active non-disclosure (measured
through use of an I prefer not to answer option), but not passive non-disclosure (where
the respondent selects no option). In the second study, participants are directed to the study
via either a personalized URL (which incorporated an encoded identifier not obvious as such
to the responder) or via a secure log-on page that required the user to type in identifying information.
Non-disclosure to a sensitive question (salary) was significantly higher when participants
went through a log-on procedure. We suggest that this pattern of non-disclosure to
sensitive questions reflects increases in identifiability when a personalized salutation or logon
procedure is used. We further suggest that the provision of an active non-disclosure option
to a sensitive question is particularly appropriate in contexts in which anonymity may be compromised,
since it enables participants to both protect their privacy and respond appropriately
to the survey.