Research Article
No access
Published Online: 9 February 2012

Comparing Online and Offline Self-Disclosure: A Systematic Review

Publication: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 15, Issue Number 2

Abstract

Disclosure of personal information is believed to be more frequent in online compared to offline communication. However, this assumption is both theoretically and empirically contested. This systematic review examined existing research comparing online and offline self-disclosure to ascertain the evidence for current theories of online communication. Studies that compared online and offline disclosures in dyadic interactions were included for review. Contrary to expectations, disclosure was not consistently found to be greater in online contexts. Factors such as the relationship between the communicators, the specific mode of communication, and the context of the interaction appear to moderate the degree of disclosure. In relation to the theories of online communication, there is support for each theory. It is argued that the overlapping predictions of each theory and the current state of empirical research highlights a need for an overarching theory of communication that can account for disclosure in both online and offline interactions.

Get full access to this article

View all available purchase options and get full access to this article.

References

1.
Joinson AN2003Understanding the psychology of Internet behaviorHampshirePalgrave Macmillan. 1. Joinson AN. (2003) Understanding the psychology of Internet behavior. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
2.
Suler J. The Online disinhibition effectCyberpsychology and Behavior20047321-326. 2. Suler J. The Online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 2004; 7:321–326.
3.
Cozby PC. Self-disclosure: a literature reviewPsychological Bulletin19737973-90. 3. Cozby PC. Self-disclosure: a literature review. Psychological Bulletin 1973; 79:73–90.
4.
Altman ITaylor A1973Social penetration: the development of interpersonal relationshipsNew YorkHolt, Rinehart and Winston. 4. Altman I, Taylor A. (1973) Social penetration: the development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
5.
Reicher SDSpears RPostmes T. A social identity model of deindividuation phenomenaEuropean Review of Social Psychology19956161-198. 5. Reicher SD, Spears R, Postmes T. A social identity model of deindividuation phenomena. European Review of Social Psychology 1995; 6:161–198.
6.
Barak AGluck-Ofri O. Degree and reciprocity of self-disclosure in online forumsCyberpsychology and Behavior200710407-417. 6. Barak A, Gluck-Ofri O. Degree and reciprocity of self-disclosure in online forums. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 2007; 10:407–417.
7.
Tidwell LCWalther JB. Computer-mediated communication effects on disclosure, impressions, and interpersonal evaluationsHuman Communication Research200228317-348. 7. Tidwell LC, Walther JB. Computer-mediated communication effects on disclosure, impressions, and interpersonal evaluations. Human Communication Research 2002; 28:317–348.
8.
Walther JB. Computer-mediated communication: impersonal, interpersonal and hyperpersonal interactionCommunication Research1996233-43. 8. Walther JB. Computer-mediated communication: impersonal, interpersonal and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research 1996; 23:3–43.
9.
Walther JB1995. Nonverbal dynamics in computer-mediated communication, or:(and the net:('s with you,:) and you:) aloneManusov VPatterson MLThe SAGE handbook of nonverbal communicationThousand Oaks, CASage Publications, Inc.461-479. 9. Walther JB. (1995) Nonverbal dynamics in computer-mediated communication, or:(and the net:('s with you,:) and you:) alone. In: Manusov V, Patterson ML, eds. The SAGE handbook of nonverbal communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., pp. 461–479.
10.
Hancock JTDunham PJ. Impression formation in computer-mediated communication revisitedCommunication Research200128325-347. 10. Hancock JT, Dunham PJ. Impression formation in computer-mediated communication revisited. Communication Research 2001; 28:325–347.
11.
Brunet PMSchmidt LA. Are shy adults really bolder online? It depends on the contextCyberpsychology and Behavior200811707-709. 11. Brunet PM, Schmidt LA. Are shy adults really bolder online? It depends on the context. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 2008; 11:707–709.
12.
Walther JBBurgoon JK. Relational communication in computer-mediated interactionHuman Communication Research19921950-88. 12. Walther JB, Burgoon JK. Relational communication in computer-mediated interaction. Human Communication Research 1992; 19:50–88.
13.
Walther JB. Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated communication: a relational perspectiveCommunication Research19921952-90. 13. Walther JB. Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated communication: a relational perspective. Communication Research 1992; 19:52–90.
14.
Daft RLLengel RH1984. Information richness: a new approach to managerial behavior and organization designStaw MCummings LLResearch in organizational behaviorHomewood, ILJAI Press191-233. 14. Daft RL, Lengel RH. (1984) Information richness: a new approach to managerial behavior and organization design. In Staw M, Cummings LL, eds. Research in organizational behavior. Homewood, IL: JAI Press, pp. 191–233.
15.
Hu YWood JFSmith V et al. Friendships through IM: examining the relationship between instant messaging and intimacyJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication200410Article 6. 15. Hu Y, Wood JF, Smith V, et al. Friendships through IM: examining the relationship between instant messaging and intimacy. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 2004; 10:Article 6.
16.
Daft RLLengel RHTrevino LK. Message equivocality, media selection, and manager performance: implications for information systemsMIS Quarterly198711355-366. 16. Daft RL, Lengel RH, Trevino LK. Message equivocality, media selection, and manager performance: implications for information systems. MIS Quarterly 1987; 11:355–366.
17.
Coleman LHPaternite CESherman RC. A reexamination of deindividuation in synchronous computer-mediated communicationComputers in Human Behavior19991551-65. 17. Coleman LH, Paternite CE, Sherman RC. A reexamination of deindividuation in synchronous computer-mediated communication. Computers in Human Behavior 1999; 15:51–65.
18.
Joinson AN. Self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication: the role of self-awareness and visual anonymityEuropean Journal of Social Psychology200131177-192. 18. Joinson AN. Self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication: the role of self-awareness and visual anonymity. European Journal of Social Psychology 2001;31:177–192.
19.
Buote VMWood EPratt M. Exploring similarities and differences between online and offline friendships: the role of attachment styleComputers in Human Behavior200925560-567. 19. Buote VM, Wood E, Pratt M. Exploring similarities and differences between online and offline friendships: the role of attachment style. Computers in Human Behavior 2009; 25:560–567.
20.
Mallen MJDay SXGreen MA. Online versus face-to-face conversations: an examination of relational and discourse variablesPsychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training200340155-163. 20. Mallen MJ, Day SX, Green MA. Online versus face-to-face conversations: an examination of relational and discourse variables. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 2003; 40:155–163.
21.
Chan DKCheng GH. A comparison of offline and online friendship qualities at different stages of relationship developmentJournal of Social and Personal Relationships200421305-320. 21. Chan DK, Cheng GH. A comparison of offline and online friendship qualities at different stages of relationship development. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 2004; 21:305–320.
22.
Schiffrin HEdelman AFalkenstern M et al. The associations among computer-mediated communication, relationships, and well-beingCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking201013299-306. 22. Schiffrin H, Edelman A, Falkenstern M, et al. The associations among computer-mediated communication, relationships, and well-being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 2010; 13:299–306.
23.
Joinson ANWoodley AReips U. Personalization, authentication and self-disclosure in self-administered Internet surveysComputers in Human Behavior200723275-285. 23. Joinson AN, Woodley A, Reips U. Personalization, authentication and self-disclosure in self-administered Internet surveys. Computers in Human Behavior 2007; 23:275–285.
24.
Moon Y. Intimate exchanges: using computers to elicit self-disclosure from consumersJournal of Consumer Research200026323-339. 24. Moon Y. Intimate exchanges: using computers to elicit self-disclosure from consumers. Journal of Consumer Research 2000; 26:323–339.
25.
Park NJin BJin SA. Effects of self-disclosure on relational intimacy in FacebookComputers in Human Behavior2011271974-1983. 25. Park N, Jin B, Jin SA. Effects of self-disclosure on relational intimacy in Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior 2011; 27:1974–1983.
26.
Schouten APValkenburg PMPeter J. Precursors and underlying processes of adolescents' online self-disclosure: developing and testing an “Internet-Attribute-Perception” modelMedia Psychology200710292-315. 26. Schouten AP, Valkenburg PM, Peter J. Precursors and underlying processes of adolescents' online self-disclosure: developing and testing an “Internet-Attribute-Perception” model. Media Psychology 2007; 10:292–315.
27.
Dias ACGTeixeira MAP. Self-disclosure in the Internet: a study with university studentsAletheia20082723-35. 27. Dias ACG, Teixeira MAP. Self-disclosure in the Internet: a study with university students. Aletheia 2008; 27:23–35.
28.
Rosen LDCheever NACummings C et al. The impact of emotionality and self-disclosure on online dating versus traditional datingComputers in Human Behavior2008242124-2157. 28. Rosen LD, Cheever NA, Cummings C, et al. The impact of emotionality and self-disclosure on online dating versus traditional dating. Computers in Human Behavior 2008; 24:2124–2157.
29.
Antheunis MLValkenburg PMPeter J. Computer-mediated communication and interpersonal attraction: an experimental test of two explanatory hypothesesCyberpsychology and Behavior200710831-836. 29. Antheunis ML, Valkenburg PM, Peter J. Computer-mediated communication and interpersonal attraction: an experimental test of two explanatory hypotheses. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 2007; 10:831–836.
30.
Carballo-Diéguez AMiner MDolezal C et al. Sexual negotiation, HIV-status disclosure, and sexual risk behavior among Latino men who use the Internet to seek sex with other menArchives of Sexual Behavior200635473-481. 30. Carballo-Diéguez A, Miner M, Dolezal C, et al. Sexual negotiation, HIV-status disclosure, and sexual risk behavior among Latino men who use the Internet to seek sex with other men. Archives of Sexual Behavior 2006; 35:473–481.
31.
Chiou WWan C. Sexual self-disclosure in cyberspace among Taiwanese adolescents: gender differences and the interplay of cyberspace and real lifeCyberpsychology and Behavior2006946-53. 31. Chiou W, Wan C. Sexual self-disclosure in cyberspace among Taiwanese adolescents: gender differences and the interplay of cyberspace and real life. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 2006; 9:46–53.
32.
Kiesler SZubrow DMoses AM et al. Affect in computer-meditated communication: an experiment in synchronous terminal-to-terminal discussionHuman–Computer Interaction1985177-104. 32. Kiesler S, Zubrow D, Moses AM, et al. Affect in computer-meditated communication: an experiment in synchronous terminal-to-terminal discussion. Human–Computer Interaction 1985; 1:77–104.
33.
Parks MRRoberts LD. `Making Moosic’: the development of personal relationships on line and a comparison to their off-line counterpartsJournal of Social and Personal Relationships199815517-537. 33. Parks MR, Roberts LD. `Making Moosic’: the development of personal relationships on line and a comparison to their off-line counterparts. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 1998; 15:517–537.
34.
Ponder E2009Attachment and Internet relationshipsUnited States, ILWheaton College. 34. Ponder E. (2009) Attachment and Internet relationships. United States, IL: Wheaton College.
35.
Rimondi W2002Differences in intimacy and self-disclosure scores between face-to-face and Internet friendshipsNew JerseyKean University. 35. Rimondi W. (2002) Differences in intimacy and self-disclosure scores between face-to-face and Internet friendships. New Jersey: Kean University.
36.
Stritzke WGKNguyen ADurkin K. Shyness and computer-mediated communication: a self-presentational theory perspectiveMedia Psychology200461-22. 36. Stritzke WGK, Nguyen A, Durkin K. Shyness and computer-mediated communication: a self-presentational theory perspective. Media Psychology 2004; 6:1–22.
37.
Parks MRFloyd K. Making friends in cyberspaceJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication1996180-97. 37. Parks MR, Floyd K. Making friends in cyberspace. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 1996; 1:80–97.

Information & Authors

Information

Published In

cover image Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 15Issue Number 2February 2012
Pages: 103 - 111
PubMed: 22032794

History

Published online: 9 February 2012
Published in print: February 2012
Published ahead of print: 27 October 2011

Permissions

Request permissions for this article.

Topics

Authors

Affiliations

Melanie Nguyen, Ph.D.
Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Yu Sun Bin, B.Sc. (Hons)
Discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Andrew Campbell, Ph.D.
Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Notes

Address correspondence to:Dr. Melanie NguyenFaculty of Health SciencesThe University of SydneyP.O. Box 170Lidcombe NSW 1825SydneyAustralia
E-mail: [email protected]

Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

Metrics & Citations

Metrics

Citations

Export citation

Select the format you want to export the citations of this publication.

View Options

Get Access

Access content

To read the fulltext, please use one of the options below to sign in or purchase access.

Society Access

If you are a member of a society that has access to this content please log in via your society website and then return to this publication.

Restore your content access

Enter your email address to restore your content access:

Note: This functionality works only for purchases done as a guest. If you already have an account, log in to access the content to which you are entitled.

View options

PDF/EPUB

View PDF/ePub

Full Text

View Full Text

Media

Figures

Other

Tables

Share

Share

Copy the content Link

Share on social media

Back to Top