Theoretical considerations and implications of current online self-disclosure research: Is it the quantity or quality of sharing that counts?
Revealing information about the self online is receiving both increased mass media and psychological research interest. Called self-disclosure, the sharing of personal information occurs in cyberspace via both synchronous Internet arenas such as instant messaging and asynchronous communications such as email. Whilst reciprocal self-disclosure has been considered to underlie relationship formation and maintenance in offline settings (Altman & Taylor, 1973), the sharing of self-information online has often been suggested to occur at an accelerated and more intense rate, and to often attract inappropriate communications compared to offline self-disclosure. Reported research often focuses on this online to offline comparison with an emphasis on the increased rapidity with which people disclose increasingly more intimate and personal details about themselves to sometimes unknown others online. This accelerated disclosure has often been attributed to a sense of anonymity (Baker, 2005) and fear of reduced social rejection online (Pennebaker, 1989). Research will be discussed which demonstrates that this focus on the rapidity and quantity of online disclosures may be somewhat misleading. Distinctions will be made between voluntary and involuntary self-disclosure in a goal-directed manner across different types of Internet arena, as well as considering factors that influence online disclosures such as privacy and security concerns, the perceived realness of online communications and the intended recipient of online disclosures. Online self-disclosure will also be discussed within a theoretical approach which utilises a memory system model of self-knowledge (Conway & Pleydell-Pearce, 2000) with a focus towards grounding the gradual and reciprocal disclosure of self-information online in a goal-directed hierarchical model of categorical processing.
Citation : Attrill, A. (2012) Theoretical considerations and implications of current online self-disclosure research: Is it the quantity or quality of sharing that counts? CyComP 2012 University of Bolton 16-17 July 2012