In spite of the widespread concerns expressed about the importance of privacy, individuals frequently give away or sell a myriad of personal data. How and why people decide to transition their information from the private to the public sphere is poorly understood.

To address this puzzle, HP conducted a reverse second-price auction to identify the monetary value of private information to individuals and how that value is set. Our results demonstrate that deviance, whether perceived or actual, from the group’s average asymmetrically impacts the price demanded to reveal private information.

For example, those who think they are overweight ask a higher price to step on a scale in front of their peers, than those of average weight.