GLOBAL: Consumers worldwide are generally more willing than unwilling to share personal data if they can see a clear value exchange, new research has shown, but most are ambivalent.

Research firm GfK asked 22,000 people in 17 countries to indicate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "I am willing to share my personal data (health, financial, driving records, energy use, etc.) in exchange for benefits or rewards like lower costs or personalized service" – using a scale where "1" meant "don't agree at all" and "7" meant "agree completely".

It reported that over a quarter (27%) of internet users strongly agreed – scoring 6 or 7 –that they were willing to share personal data in return for benefits, while 19% –scoring 1 or 2 – were firmly unwilling to share their data.

Men and women were equally likely (27% each) to be firmly willing to share their data in return for benefits, although more women than men classed themselves as firmly unwilling – 21% v 18%.

And, unsurprisingly, younger consumers were more open to the idea of sharing data. People aged in their twenties and thirties were most likely to share their data, with a third saying they were firmly willing to do so (33% and 34% respectively); they were followed by 15-19 year olds, at 28%.

Geographically, the survey found that people in China were most ready to share personal data, 38% of the online population firmly willing to do so and only 8% firmly unwilling. Other countries with higher than average levels of willingness included Mexico (30%), Russia (29%) and Italy (28%).

At the other end of the scale, the five countries with the highest levels of people firmly against sharing their data were Germany (40%), France (37%), Brazil (34%), Canada (31%) and the Netherlands (30% percent).

The publication of the research coincided with Data Privacy Day in the US, organised by theNational Cyber Security Alliance which took place last week in Twitter's San Francisco offices.

Cnet reported that those attending were optimistic about how businesses will treat consumer privacy in the future.

Denelle Dixon-Thayer, chief business and legal officer at Mozilla, posited a future in which consumers would be able to remove all their data from one service, whether that was a social network or an ad network, and give it to another they liked better.

"Everyone can still make a profit from it," she added.

Data sourced from GfK, Cnet; additional content by Warc staff