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While online, some people self-disclose or act out more frequently or intensely than they would in person. This article explores six factors that interact with each other in creating this online disinhibition effect: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority. Personality variables also will influence the extent of this disinhibition. Rather than thinking of disinhibition as the revealing of an underlying "true self," we can conceptualize it as a shift to a constellation within self-structure, involving clusters of affect and cognition that differ from the in-person constellation.
The Online Disinhibition Effect
While online, some people self-disclose or act out more frequently or intensely than they
would in person. This article explores six factors that interact with each other in creating this
online disinhibition effect: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic in-
trojection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority. Personality variables
also will influence the extent of this disinhibition. Rather than thinking of disinhibition as
the revealing of an underlying “true self,” we can conceptualize it as a shift to a constellation
within self-structure, involving clusters of affect and cognition that differ from the in-person
Volume 7, Number 3, 2004
© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
VERYDAY USERS on the Internet—as well as clini-
cians and researchers
—have noted how peo-
ple say and do things in cyberspace that they
wouldn’t ordinarily say and do in the face-to-face
world. They loosen up, feel less restrained, and ex-
press themselves more openly. So pervasive is the
phenomenon that a term has surfaced for it: the on-
line disinhibition effect.
This disinhibition can work in two seemingly op-
posing directions. Sometimes people share very
personal things about themselves. They reveal se-
cret emotions, fears, wishes. They show unusual
acts of kindness and generosity, sometimes going
out of their way to help others. We may call this be-
nign disinhibition.
However, the disinhibition is not always so salu-
tary. We witness rude language, harsh criticisms,
anger, hatred, even threats. Or people visit the dark
underworld of the Internet—places of pornogra-
phy, crime, and violence—territory they would
never explore in the real world. We may call this
toxic disinhibition.
Some types of benign disinhibition indicate an
attempt to better understand and develop oneself,
to resolve interpersonal and intrapsychic problems
or explore new emotional and experiential dimen-
sions to one’s identity.
We could even consider it a
process of “working through” as conceptualized in
psychodynamic theory, or “self-actualization” as
proposed in humanistic perspectives. By contrast,
toxic disinhibition may simply be a blind catharsis,
a fruitless repetition compulsion, and an acting out
of unsavory needs without any personal growth at
As in all conceptual dichotomies, the distinction
between benign and toxic disinhibition will be
complex or ambiguous in some cases. For exam-
ple, hostile words in a chat encounter could be a
therapeutic breakthrough for some people. In an
increasingly intimate e-mail relationship, people
may quickly reveal personal information, then
later regret their self-disclosures—feeling exposed,
Department of Psychology, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
13658C03.PGS 6/15/04 2:36 PM Page 321
vulnerable, or shameful. An excessively rapid,
even false intimacy may develop, which later de-
stroys the relationship when one or both people
feel overwhelmed, anxious, or disappointed. Also,
in the very wide variety of online subcultures,
what is considered asocial behavior in one group
may be very à propos in another. Cultural relativ-
ity as well as the complexities of psychological dy-
namics will blur any simple contrasts between
disinhibition that is positive or negative.
Whether benign, toxic, or a mixture of both, what
causes this online disinhibition? What elements of
cyberspace lead to this weakening of the psycho-
logical barriers that block hidden feelings and
At least six factors are involved. For some peo-
ple, one or two of them produces the lion’s share of
the disinhibition effect. In most cases, however,
these factors intersect and interact with each other,
supplement each other, resulting in a more com-
plex, amplified effect.
As people move around the Internet, others they
encounter can’t easily determine who they are.
Usernames and e-mail addresses may be visible,
but this information may not reveal much about a
person, especially if the username is contrived and
the e-mail address derives from a large Internet ser-
vice provider. Technologically savvy, motivated
users may be able to detect a computer’s IP ad-
dress, but for the most part others only know what
a person tells them. If so desired, people can hide
some or all of their identity. They also can alter
their identities. As the word “anonymous” indi-
cates, people can have no name or at least not their
real name.
This anonymity is one of the principle factors
that creates the disinhibition effect. When people
have the opportunity to separate their actions on-
line from their in-person lifestyle and identity, they
feel less vulnerable about self-disclosing and acting
out. Whatever they say or do can’t be directly
linked to the rest of their lives. In a process of disso-
ciation, they don’t have to own their behavior by
acknowledging it within the full context of an inte-
grated online/offline identity. The online self be-
comes a compartmentalized self. In the case of
expressed hostilities or other deviant actions, the
person can avert responsibility for those behaviors,
almost as if superego restrictions and moral cogni-
tive processes have been temporarily suspended
from the online psyche. In fact, people might even
convince themselves that those online behaviors
“aren’t me at all.”
In many online environments, especially those
that are text-driven, people cannot see each other.
When people visit web sites, message boards, and
even some chat rooms, other people may not even
know they are present at all—with the possible ex-
ception of web masters and other users who have
access to software tools that can detect traffic
through the environment, assuming they have the
inclination to keep an eye on an individual person,
who is one of maybe hundreds or thousands of
This invisibility gives people the courage to go
places and do things that they otherwise wouldn’t.
Although this power to be concealed overlaps with
anonymity—because anonymity is the conceal-
ment of identity—there are some important differ-
ences. In the text communication of e-mail, chat,
instant messaging, and blogs, people may know a
great deal about each other’s identities and lives.
However, they still cannot see or hear each other.
Even with everyone’s identity known, the oppor-
tunity to be physically invisible amplifies the disin-
hibition effect. People don’t have to worry about
how they look or sound when they type a message.
They don’t have to worry about how others look or
sound in response to what they say. Seeing a frown,
a shaking head, a sigh, a bored expression, and
many other subtle and not so subtle signs of disap-
proval or indifference can inhibit what people are
willing to express. According to traditional psycho-
analytic theory, the analyst sits behind the patient
in order to remain a physically ambiguous figure,
revealing no body language or facial expression, so
that the patient has free range to discuss whatever
he or she wants without feeling inhibited by how
the analyst is physically reacting. In everyday rela-
tionships, people sometimes avert their eyes when
discussing something personal and emotional.
Avoiding eye contact and face-to-face visibility dis-
inhibits people. Text communication offers a built-
in opportunity to keep one’s eyes averted.
In e-mail and message boards, communication is
asynchronous. People don’t interact with each
other in real time. Others may take minutes, hours,
days, or even months to reply. Not having to cope
13658C03.PGS 6/15/04 2:36 PM Page 322
with someone’s immediate reaction disinhibits
people. In real life, the analogy might be speaking
to someone, magically suspending time before that
person can reply, and then returning to the conver-
sation when one is willing and able to hear the
In a continuous feedback loop that reinforces
some behaviors and extinguishes others, moment-
by-moment responses from others powerfully
shapes the ongoing flow of self-disclosure and be-
havioral expression, usually in the direction of con-
forming to social norms. In e-mail and message
boards, where there are delays in that feedback,
people’s train of thought may progress more
steadily and quickly towards deeper expressions of
benign and toxic disinhibition that avert social
norms. Some people may even experience asyn-
chronous communication as “running away” after
posting a message that is personal, emotional, or
hostile. It feels safe putting it “out there” where it
can be left behind. In some cases, as Kali Munro, an
online psychotherapist, aptly describes it, the per-
son may be participating in an “emotional hit and
run” (K. Munro, unpublished observations, 2003).
Absent face-to-face cues combined with text
communication can alter self-boundaries. People
may feel that their mind has merged with the mind
of the online companion. Reading another person’s
message might be experienced as a voice within
one’s head, as if that person’s psychological pres-
ence and influence have been assimilated or intro-
jected into one’s psyche.
Of course, one may not know what the other per-
son’s voice actually sounds like, so in one’s mind a
voice is assigned to that person. In fact, consciously
or unconsciously, a person may even assign a visual
image to what he or she thinks the person looks and
behaves like. The online companion then becomes a
character within one’s intrapsychic world, a charac-
ter shaped partly by how the person actually pre-
sents him or herself via text communication, but
also by one’s internal representational system based
on personal expectations, wishes, and needs. Trans-
ference reactions encourage the shaping of this per-
ceived introjected character when similarities exist
between the online companion and significant oth-
ers in one’s life, and when one fills in ambiguities in
the personality of the online companion with im-
ages of past relationships, or from novels and film.
As the introjected character becomes more elaborate
and subjectively “real,” a person may start to expe-
rience the typed-text conversation as taking place
inside one’s mind, within the imagination, within
one’s intrapsychic world—not unlike authors typ-
ing out a play or novel.
Even when online relationships are not involved,
many people carry on these kinds of conversations
in their imagination throughout the day. People fan-
tasize about flirting, arguing with a boss, or hon-
estly confronting a friend about what they feel. In
their imagination, where it’s safe, people feel free to
say and do things they would not in reality. At that
moment, reality is one’s imagination. Online text
communication can evolve into an introjected psy-
chological tapestry in which a person’s mind
weaves these fantasy role plays, usually uncon-
sciously and with considerable disinhibition. Cy-
berspace may become a stage, and we are merely
When reading another’s message, one might also
“hear” the online companion’s voice using one’s
own voice. People may subvocalize as they read,
thereby projecting the sound of their voice into the
other person’s text. This conversation may be expe-
rienced unconsciously as talking to/with oneself,
which encourages disinhibition because talking
with oneself feels safer than talking with others.
For some people, talking with oneself may feel like
confronting oneself, which may unleash many
powerful psychological issues.
If we combine the opportunity to easily escape or
dissociate from what happens online with the psy-
chological process of creating imaginary charac-
ters, we get a somewhat different force that
magnifies disinhibition. Consciously or uncon-
sciously, people may feel that the imaginary char-
acters they “created” exist in a different space, that
one’s online persona along with the online others
live in an make-believe dimension, separate and
apart from the demands and responsibilities of the
real world. They split or dissociate online fiction
from offline fact. Emily Finch, an author and crimi-
nal lawyer who studies identity theft in cyberspace,
has suggested that some people see their online life
as a kind of game with rules and norms that don’t
apply to everyday living (E. Finch, unpublished
observations, 2002). Once they turn off the com-
puter and return to their daily routine, they believe
they can leave behind that game and their game-
identity. They relinquish their responsible for what
happens in a make-believe play world that has
nothing to do with reality.
13658C03.PGS 6/15/04 2:36 PM Page 323
The effect of this dissociative imagination sur-
faces clearly in fantasy game environments in
which a user consciously creates an imaginary
character, but it also can influence many dimen-
sions of online living. For people with a predis-
posed difficulty in distinguishing personal fantasy
from social reality, the distinction between online
fantasy environments and online social environ-
ments may be blurred. In our modern media-dri-
ven lifestyles, the power of computer and video
game imagination can infiltrate reality testing.
Although anonymity amplifies the effect of dis-
sociative imagination, dissociative imagination and
dissociative anonymity usually differ in the com-
plexity of the dissociated sector of the self. Under
the influence of anonymity, the person may at-
tempt an invisible non-identity, resulting in a re-
ducing, simplifying, or compartmentalizing of
self-expression. In dissociative imagination, the ex-
pressed but split-off self may evolve greatly in
While online a person’s status in the face-to-face
world may not be known to others and may not
have as much impact. Authority figures express
their status and power in their dress, body lan-
guage, and in the trappings of their environmental
settings. The absence of those cues in the text envi-
ronments of cyberspace reduces the impact of their
Even if people do know something about an au-
thority figure’s offline status and power, that ele-
vated position may have less of an effect on the
person’s online presence and influence. In many
environments on the Internet, everyone has an
equal opportunity to voice him or herself. Every-
one—regardless of status, wealth, race, or gender—
starts off on a level playing field. Although one’s
identity in the outside world ultimately may shape
power in cyberspace, what mostly determines the
influence on others is one’s skill in communicating
(including writing skills), persistence, the quality
of one’s ideas, and technical know-how.
People are reluctant to say what they really think
as they stand before an authority figure. A fear of
disapproval and punishment from on high damp-
ens the spirit. But online, in what feels more like a
peer relationship—with the appearances of author-
ity minimized—people are much more willing to
speak out and misbehave.
The traditional Internet philosophy holds that
everyone is an equal, that the purpose of the net is
to share ideas and resources among peers. The net
itself is designed with no centralized control, and
as it grows, with seemingly no end to its potential
for creating new environments, many of its inhabi-
tants see themselves as innovative, independent-
minded explorers and pioneers. This atmosphere
and this philosophy contribute to the minimizing
of authority.
The online disinhibition effect is not the only fac-
tor that determines how much people self-disclose
or act out in cyberspace. Individual differences play
an important role. For example, the intensity of a
person’s underlying feelings, needs, and drive level
affect susceptibility to disinhibition. Personality
styles also vary greatly in the strength of defense
mechanisms and tendencies towards inhibition or
expression. People with histrionic styles tend to be
very open and emotional, whereas compulsive peo-
ple are more restrained. The online disinhibition ef-
fect will interact with these personality variables, in
some cases resulting in a small deviation from the
person’s baseline (offline) behavior, while in other
cases causing dramatic changes. Future research
can focus on which people, under what circum-
stances, are more predisposed to the various ele-
ments of online disinhibition.
We may be tempted to conclude that the disinhi-
bition effect releases deeper aspects of intrapsychic
structure, that it unlocks the true needs, emotions,
and self attributes that dwell beneath surface per-
sonality presentations. A man with repressed anger
unleashes his hostility online, thereby showing oth-
ers how he really feels. A shy woman openly ex-
presses her hidden affection for her cyberspace
companion. The fact that some people report being
more like their “true self” while online reinforces
this conceptual temptation. Inspired by Freud’s
archeological model of the mind, these ideas rest on
the assumption that personality structure is con-
structed in layers, that a core, true self exists be-
neath various layers of defenses and the more
superficial roles of everyday social interactions.
13658C03.PGS 6/15/04 2:36 PM Page 324
However, personal and cultural values deter-
mine what are considered the “true” aspects of
one’s personality. People more readily accept as
true those traits that are regarded as positive and
productive. However, self-centered sexual and ag-
gressive tendencies, as Freud noted, also are basic
components of personality dynamics, as are the
array of psychological defenses designed to control
them. Similarly, the seeming superficial social roles
of everyday living are necessary for functioning,
thereby serving a fundamental purpose in the psy-
chology of the individual. They are stable, valuable
aspects of identity.
The concept of disinhibition can lead us astray,
into thinking that what is disinhibited is a more
“true” aspect of identity than the processes of in-
hibiting and disinhibiting. But who or what is it
that does the inhibiting and disinhibiting? It is a
part or process within personality dynamics no less
real or important than other parts or processes.
This is why many psychoanalytic clinicians believe
that working with defenses and resistance—the in-
hibitors of the personality structure—is so crucial
to the success of the therapy. Even when therapy
reduces the intensity of these defenses, remnants of
them remain within the personality structure, serv-
ing an important regulatory function and some-
times evolving into productive aspects of one’s
personality independent of the affect or conflict
originally defended against.
The self does not exist separate from the environ-
ment in which that self is expressed. If someone
contains his aggression in face-to-face living, but
expresses that aggression online, both behaviors
reflect aspects of self: the self that acts non-
aggressively under certain conditions, the self that
acts aggressively under other conditions. When a
person is shy in person while outgoing online, nei-
ther self-presentation is more true. They are two di-
mensions of that person, each revealed within a
different situational context. Sometimes, as Jung
noted, these different sides of the person operate in
a dynamic polarity relative to each other. They are
two sides of the same personality dimension.
Instead of regarding the internal psychological
world as constructed in layers and juxtaposed with
an external environment, we can conceptualize it,
following traditional associationist theory, as an in-
trapsychic field containing clusters or constella-
tions of emotion, memory, and thinking that are
interconnected with certain environments. Some
constellations overlap, others are more dissociated
from each other, with environmental variables in-
fluencing those levels of integration and dissocia-
tion. Personality dynamics involve the complex in-
teractions among these facets of self and environ-
mental contexts.
The disinhibition effect can then be understood
as the person shifting, while online, to an intrapsy-
chic constellation that may be, in varying degrees,
dissociated from the in-person constellation, with
inhibiting guilt, anxiety, and related affects as fea-
tures of the in-person self but not as part of that
online self. This constellations model—which is
consistent with current clinical theories regarding
dissociation and information processing—helps ex-
plain the disinhibition effect as well as other online
phenomena, like identity experimentation, role
playing, multitasking, and other more subtle shifts
in personality expression as someone moves from
one online environment to another. In fact, a single
disinhibited “online self” probably does not exist at
all, but rather a collection of slightly different con-
stellations of affect, memory, and thought that sur-
face in and interact with different types of online
Different modalities of online communication
(e.g., e-mail, chat, video) and different environ-
ments (e.g., social, vocational, fantasy) may facili-
tate diverse expressions of self. Each setting allows
us to see a different perspective on identity. Neither
one is necessarily more true than another. Based on
a multidimensional analysis of the various psycho-
logical features of online settings, a comprehensive
theory on the psychotherapeutics of cyberspace can
explore how computer-mediated environments can
be designed to express, develop, and if necessary,
restrain different constellations of self-structure.
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Address reprint requests to:
John Suler, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Rider University
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
13658C03.PGS 6/15/04 2:36 PM Page 326
... Siguiendo esta línea de reflexión, también deviene interesante en el contexto victimológico analizar el efecto desinhibidor que el ciberespacio tiene sobre la persona (Suler, 2004), especialmente considerando que, con frecuencia, se observan comportamientos impulsivos y procesos de toma de decisiones irreflexivos que, de nuevo, pueden favorecer o precipitar la comisión de hechos delictivos, poniéndose la víctima en riesgo a través de sus propias acciones. Así, la teoría del autocontrol puede ayudarnos a determinar en qué medida los riesgos de cibervictimización pueden derivarse de una pobre capacidad de autocontrol y, de ser así, la prevención pasaría por una reeducación de la impulsividad y estrategias dirigidas a potenciar dicho autocontrol. ...
... Las personas interactuamos y nos comunicamos como parte intrínseca de nuestro comportamiento en el mundo físico (o meatspace: Pease, 2001) mediante las interacciones cara-a-cara y, de forma más reciente, en el mundo virtual mediante interacciones pantalla-a-pantalla. Este nuevo espacio de interacción social tiene sus propias características y la psicología humana se ha adaptado a ellas, desarrollando nuevas estrategias conductuales y comportamientos sociales (Suler, 2004). ...
... Según Suler (2004), las personas se comportan e interactúan de forma diferente en el mundo online debido a un efecto desinhibitorio del entorno virtual en el sujeto. Esta desinhibición puede ser benigna, cuando las personas comparten su información personal o sus emociones y reciben aceptación o apoyo de la comunidad online. ...
... Klinik Siber Psikolojiden Adli Siber Psikolojiye: Siber Travma ve Siber Reviktimizasyon çıkmayan davranışları (iyi huylu disinhibisyon) siber ortamda göstermektedir. 12 Barak, Boniel-Nissim ve Suler, disinhibisyon etkisinin çevrimiçi gruplarda daha fazla ortaya çıktığını ve bu durumun çevrimiçi ortamdaki öz güvenin artmasına ve duyguların daha rahat ifade edilmesine destek olduğunu ifade etmektedir. 13 Siber uzayda insanlar arası ilişkiler, yüz yüze ilişkilere göre çok daha yakın ve daha yoğun (hyperpersonal) düzeyde gerçekleşmektedir. ...
... 29 Bu durumu "çevrimiçi disinhibisyon etkisi" olarak açıklayan Suler'a göre; aktüel hayattaki "yüzeysel kimliğin" altından yatan ihtiyaçların, duyguların, düşüncelerin serbest bırakılıp "gerçek/özdeki kimliğin" ortaya çıkması ideası hala belirsizliğini korumaktadır. 12 Bazı kişiler siber uzaydaki kimlikleri ile aktüel hayattaki kimliklerinin aynı olduğunu düşünmektedir. Ancak Zizek'e göre ise siber ortamda kurgusal olan çevrimiçi dünyada "olduğu değil, "olmak istediği ya da olduğuna inandığı" kişinin kimliğine bürünenlerdir. ...
... Ancak çevrimiçi ve çevrimdışı yaşamın entegrasyonu ve benliğin özerkliği kişilerin çevrimdışı gündelik hayata yabancılaşmaması ve kimliklerini bir bütün halinde tutmaları açısından önem arz etmektedir. 12,32,36 İnternetteki etkileşimin bireyleri aşırı ve orantısız uyaranlara maruz bırakması bireyin kimlik bütünlüğünü önemli ölçüde etkileyebilmektedir. Birey aşırı uyaranlara maruz kaldığının farkına varmadan, bu baskıcı sistemi (sistemin siber uzaydaki internet tabanlı etkileşimden yürümesi ve bireylerin bu sisteme ayak uydurmak zorunda kalması) sürdürmek ve sistemden dışlanmamak adına uyumlu bir kimlik dönüşümüne zorlanmaktadır. ...
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With the development of technology, digital tools have become an important part of our current lives. Cyber psychology, which emerged as a new but increasingly important sub-field of psychology; in addition to mainstream psychology, conducts interdisciplinary studies with other fields such as clinical psychology, crim- inology, philosophy, sociology, media, communication and security. Cyber psychology is a discipline that ex- plores the impact of digital technologies and the internet on people and communities. Cyber psychology uses theories in mainstream psychology and explains new interactions with other disciplines to explain how individu- als interact with each other online and to what extent these interactions can affect their lives outside the offline area. In the light of these theories, a new definition of "cyber self” and "cyber society " including individual, social and cultural transformations are made. Clinical cyber psychology conducts studies for the psychological integration of individuals with online and offline life. Cyber dissociation produced by Öztürk & Çalıcı, a new concept, is pre- dicted to be one of the most important subfields where clinical and forensic cyber psychology will work. Cyber dissociation emerges as a defense in the initial stage in order to ensure the integration of individuals' offline and online lives due to the widespread use of social media tools and the fact that the current life forces people to cre- ate cyber selfs in the cyber environment and creates a duality in the psychological structure of the individuals in the process. The subfields of cyber psychology, which conducts interdisciplinary studies, range from clinical cyber psychology to forensic cyber psychology. Most studied areas in cyber psychology are; online relationships, online dating, online crimes, cyber victimization, cyber revictimization, cyber bullying and cyber harassment. Conduct- ing interdisciplinary studies within the scope of cyber psychology, identification and control of interactions in cyber space, which is an unlimited space and changing and transforming from day to day, and all kinds of actions taken in this environment, effective intervention/prevention programs and legal arrangements should be done. Pro- fessionals working in the fields of clinical and forensic cyber psychology have important duties. Keywords: Cyber psychology; cyber trauma; cyber revictimization
... The use of smartphones and internet provides a safe, secure and distant environment for shy individuals (McKenna & Bargh, 2000). It exhibits the options of invisibility and anonymity when interacting online or through social networking sites which serves as an attractive means of communication for bashful individuals and they may express themselves more frankly (Saunders & Chester, 2008;Suler, 2004). Therefore, because of this ease of communication while still being in their personal space provides a better alternative to personal communication (Laghi et al., 2013). ...
... Consequently, gendered structures in the non-digital world exist in, and are reconstituted, online. That being said, Suler (2004) adds that online invisibility may not disconnect a user from their offline identity, but may nonetheless encourage intimate disclosure or candour, because users are not held accountable to their offline selves. These questions surrounding CMC are pertinent to investigating parental presence in cyberspace. ...
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Digital media can reflect and reify normative expectations in the non-digital world. Parents are increasingly engaging with online media to seek information and support. Online parenting forums therefore act as key windows into current perceptions surrounding parenthood and child rearing. My study aims to investigate differences in parenting expectations between mothers and fathers on online parenting forums. I conducted a cyber ethnography of two Reddit subforums, Mommit and Daddit, to investigate how parents negotiate gendered parenting discourses on these two parenting subforums. Using a grounded theory approach, I extract key themes surrounding mothering and fathering expectations relating to (1) parental responsibilities, (2) women and men’s self-identity as parents, and (3) mothers’ and fathers’ relationships with their partners. My discourse analysis reveals that both Mommit and Daddit work to deconstruct certain normative pressures surrounding motherhood and fatherhood, but simultaneously reaffirm traditional gendered parenting expectations. These forums act as an avenue for users to deconstruct expectations that frustrate users: Daddit users contest the expectation that fathers are not apt child carers, and Mommit users contest the expectation that women are exclusively, and naturally skilled, child carers. However, at the same time, users cannot fully escape normative pressures, and indeed these forums reinforce a gendered primary-secondary divide between mothers and fathers in caretaking responsibilities and practices.
... This disinhibition effect, which is characterised by reduced self-censorship, likely occurs because of the lack of physical presence between client and counselor, and the feeling of being anonymous (Suler, 2004). This effect places clients in a position of greater power in that they have more control over the message and flow of information (Bambling, King, Reid, & Wegner, 2008). ...
Online chat and email are two of the most popular ways of providing e-mental health. Online chat is synchronous communication in a virtual chat room where client and counselor meet at the same time. In contrast, email is referred to as asynchronous because it can be accessed without the synchronous presence of client and counselor. There has been a rapid increase in the demand for chat and email over recent years and much of the demand has been met by services that have traditionally provided helplines or crisis support. This chapter provides an overview of the key issues associated with the delivery of e-mental health services and workforce development. This includes an examination of the range of options for providing e-mental health and key issues to consider when working online. The chapter concludes with a brief exploration of issues associated with client suitability for e-mental health via chat and email.
... Indeed, the medium of online communication may promote offering assistance to others. According to Suler (2004), the online disinhibition effect, a central feature of online communication, is not only manifested when increased self-disclosure is involved, but also in considerable efforts to assist others, both familiar and unfamiliar. Commonly, individuals engaged in online activities are prepared to seek and offer each other assistance and advice on various subjects (Lapidot-Lefler & Barak, 2015). ...
We proposed a typology of adolescents’ online support-related behaviours based on two facets: help-seeking and help-providing: (1) Transceivers seek and provide help; (2) Receivers seek help but do not provide it; (3) Transmitters provide help, yet do not seek it; and (4) Idlers refrain from seeking and providing help. Of the 528 adolescents, the largest group are Transceivers (45%), and they seek help mainly from peers through social networking sites, around social issues. For Receivers (5%) the most important facilitator of seeking help is anonymity. Transmitters (16%) refrain from seeking help due to self-reliance. Idlers (34%) refrain from seeking help due to their preference to face-to-face encounters. The characteristics of the four patterns are discussed in light of counselling implications.
... In cyberspace, individuals often expose secrets, emotions, anxieties, lifestyles, personalities and actions that they do not normally take in the real world. Because when online, individuals tend to be motivated to open up or play a role more frequently and intensively than in the real world [1]. This is done solely because individuals who live in this era tend to need a massive "recognition". ...
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Social media has been growing rapidly, and it revolves around self-disclosure. Instagram as the most influential social media nowadays, triggers its users to perform OSD. The use of social media is indeed one of the predictors that have an impact. But apart from that, there is an exposure created by the presence of a media. The effect of media exposure also often affects a person in self-disclosure on social networks. The independent variable in this study is Instagram influencer content exposure. As users who have massive followers, influencers can mobilize and influence their followers with very high feedback through the content they uploaded, therefore followers are often triggered to do OSD on their social media. The purpose of this study was to determine how significant the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable, the motivation for online self-disclosing. The paradigm used is quantitative with correlational studies. The method of distributing the questionnaire was carried out by using a simple random sampling technique to 100 respondents who were followers of the @catwomanizer Instagram account. The results showed that the two variables simultaneously had a 0.620 degree of relationship with a strong correlation level.
... L'immediatezza con cui è possibile accedere al mezzo e la sensazione di (apparente) anonimato e di disinibizione (sia essa intesa in senso positivo o negativo, cfr. Suler, 2004) associata all'esperienza online fanno sì che gli utenti avvertano in tali spazi una maggiore libertà di espressione, libertà che può presto tradursi in attacco e offesa quando l'oggetto del contendere è particolarmente sensibile. ...
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Media Literacy and Academic Research is a scientific journal focused on the academic reflection of media and information literacy issues, media education, critical thinking, digital media and new trends in related areas of media and communication studies. The journal is devoted to addressing contemporary issues and future developments related to the interdisciplinary academic discussion, the results of empirical research and the mutual interaction of expertise in media and information studies, media education as well as their sociological, psychological, political, linguistic and technological aspects. The journal is now indexed in these databases: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) – Web of Science Core Collection, ERIH Plus, Ulrich’s Periodical Directory, CEEOL, CEJSH and Index Copernicus. Moreover the journal is under the indexing process with Scopus, Cabell´s Directories and EBSCO. The journal does not have article processing charges (APCs) and article submission charges. Media Literacy and Academic Research welcomes article submissions and does not charge a publication fee. More details and Call for papers:
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This article proposes a dimensional model for conceptualizing the various approaches to conducting psychotherapy in cyberspace, including "cybertherapy" involving the internet, local networks, and stand-alone computers. As compared to in-person therapy, computer-mediated therapy is unique in how it offers the opportunity to interact with clients via different pathways, each one having its unique pros and cons, each one involving a different type of relationship between client and therapist. The model explores the communication features of five dimensions: synchronous/asynchronous, text/sensory, actual/imaginary, automated/interpersonal, invisible/present. The various dimensional elements can be combined and sequenced in a variety of ways in order to design a therapeutic encounter that addresses the specific needs of individual clients.
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Two studies examined hypotheses derived from a Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE) as applied to social influence in computer-mediated communication (CMC) in groups. This model predicts that anonymity can increase social influence if a common group identity is salient. In a first study, group members were primed with a certain type of social behavior (efficiency vs. prosocial norms). Consistent with the model, anonymous groups displayed prime-consistent behavior in their task solutions, whereas identifiable groups did not. This sug- gests that the primed norm took root in anonymous groups to a greater extent than in identifiable groups. A second study repli- cated this effect and showed that nonprimed group members con- formed to the behavior of primed members, but only when anony- mous, suggesting that the primed norm was socially transmitted within the group. Implications for social influence in small groups are discussed. This article is concerned with processes of social influ- ence in groups communicating by means of computers. A common feature of communication via e-mail and the Internet is the relative anonymity of contact with others, especially in initial interactions. In two studies, we inves- tigate the effect of visual anonymity on social influence in computer-mediated communication (CMC). In the process, we address basic issues of general concern to social psychology and examine the effects of this increas- ingly popular communication medium. Deriving predic- tions from the Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE) (Reicher, Spears, & Postmes, 1995), we try to show in the first study that anonymity can enhance the influence of a primed norm. The second study in- vestigates evidence for the transmission of this norm in the interaction between group members who are
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A wide variety of deviant behavior may arise as the population of an online multimedia community increases. That behavior can span the range from simple mischievous antics to more serious expressions of psychopathology, including depression, sociopathy, narcissism, dissociation, and borderline dynamics. In some cases the deviant behavior may be a process of pathological acting out - in others, a healthy attempt to work through. Several factors must be taken into consideration when explaining online deviance, such as social/cultural issues, the technical infrastructure of the environment, transference reactions, and the effects of the ambiguous, anonymous, and fantasy-driven atmosphere of cyberspace life. In what we may consider an "online community psychology," intervention strategies for deviant behavior can be explored along three dimensions: preventative versus remedial, user versus superuser based, and automated versus interpersonal.
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Spectacular growth in availability of sexually explicit material on the Internet challenges sexual science to study antecedents and consequences of experience with such content. The current analysis attempts to provide a conceptual and empirical context for emerging work in this area. Our discussion begins with a summary of some of what has been learned from existing research concerning sexually explicit materials in contexts other than the Internet, and considers lessons from this work that may inform emerging research concerning Internet sexuality. A social psychological theory, the Sexual Behavior Sequence (Byrne, 1977), is then applied in an initial effort to conceptualize a number of antecedents and consequences of experience with Internet sexuality. Discussion closes with consideration of an agenda for future research concerning antecedents and consequences of experience with Internet sexually explicit materials.
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Three studies examined the notion that computer mediated communication (CMC) can be characterised by high levels of self-disclosure. In Study one, significantly higher levels of spontaneous self-disclosure were found in computer-mediated compared to face-to-face discussions. Study two examined the role of visual anonymity in encouraging self-disclosure during CMC. Visually anonymous participants disclosed significantly more information about themselves than non-visually anonymous participants. In Study three, private and public self-awareness were independently manipulated, using videoconferencing cameras and accountability cues, to create a 2x2 design (public self-awareness (high and low) x private self-awareness (high and low). It was found that heightened private self-awareness, when combined with reduced public self-awareness, was associated with significantly higher levels of spontaneous self-disclosure during computer-mediated communication.
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The purpose of this online hypertext book is to explore the psychological dimensions of environments created by computers and online networks. It is intended as an evolving conceptual framework for understanding the various psychological components of cyberspace and how people react to and behave within it. You can find the latest version of "The Psychology of Cyberspace" by clicking here: John Suler vom Department of Psychology der Rider University beschreibt mit Hilfe seines Online-Buches die psychologischen Elemente und Dimensionen virtueller Umgebungen. Die einzelnen Artikel des Buches können nicht nur sequentiell gelesen werden, sie sind auch über ein eigenes Verzeichnis zu erreichen. Schuler bietet einen sehr umfassenden Überblick über die psychologischen Implikationen virtueller Räume. Die aktuellste Version des von "The Psychology of Cyberspace" finden Sie unter der URL
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One's passion for the Internet can be healthy, pathologically addictive, or somewhere inbetween. Where a person falls on that continuum is determined by the cluster of needs that are being fulfilled by his or her Internet use and how the internet addresses those needs. This article suggests eight factors that can help clarify the healthy or unhealthy qualities of one's commitment to cyberspace activities, as well the effect of those activities on the person's underlying needs. It then explores the types of needs addressed by internet use. The "integration principle" is proposed as a rule of thumb for assessing pathological and healthy Internet use.
Online casinos have sprung up practically overnight into a multi-million dollar business, attracting a large number of gamblers worldwide. This article focuses on unique and psychologically significant factors that are involved in Internet gambling behavior, in comparison to traditional gambling procedures. Several of the aspects of Internet gambling, which are believed to facilitate excessive online gambling, are examined here in depth. These include the practical ease of access to online gambling and the anonymity and privacy of gambling from one's own home, as well as other factors. An overview of the graphical interface of several typical virtual casinos shows how seductive and realistic the online casino experience can be. The psychologically derived methods used by Internet casinos to make online gambling attractive, accessible, and easily operated are delineated. A review of the literature related to excessive traditional gambling behavior is used as a basis for analysis of online gambling behavior, in order to assess the extent of virtual gambling. The global nature of the Internet, combined with the limited, if not impossible, ability of local governments to effectively regulate or ban online gambling, will have profound psychological and social consequences. Studies of the effects on the psychological welfare of communities that underwent introduction to traditional casino gambling are reviewed, and evaluation is made about how virtual gambling might have negative social influence worldwide.