Online disinhitbition theory is the way people express themselves while using cyberspace. Users of online dating sites tend to be more comfortable online than they are with face-to · Suler breaks down six factors that cause online disinhibition: Dissociative anonymity (“You don’t know me”) This is one of the principal factors behind the online Missing: online dating · Abstract. 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 · As noted by scholars, the functionality of online spaces can lead to an online disinhibition effect wherein users act more aggressively or intensely online than they would The online disinhibition effect is the tendency of people to express themselves more freely and without social restraints on an online platform. However, Suler () argues that this freedom ... read more
This presents possibilities that are not as easily attainable in face-to-face interaction. The asynchronous nature of many forms of communication over the internet leads to disinhibition. Email and message board conversations do not happen in real time.
For example, you might put up an emotionally-charged post and log out without seeing any responses from others. This would allow you to gain catharsis and escape any potential negative reactions. Asynchronicity also allows you to think more carefully about what you would like to say before posting, which can help if you have trouble with face-to-face interactions. This lessens the pressure that can accompany real-life conversations, and can lead you to present differently online than you do offline.
Without face-to-face cues, you experience online messages as voices in your head. You might assign imagined characteristics to another person based off of their messages and online persona. Your online companions become characters in your own psychic world, shaped by your personal expectations and needs. People sometimes subvocalize as they read, which can lead to a perception that they are talking to themselves.
This leads to feeling more comfortable talking to the other person and leads to disinhibition. The asynchronous nature of email or text may lead clients to disclose information they would not have disclosed if they were working with you in real time. Disclosing via email or text may be cathartic for the client, allowing them to share information to avoid judgement or questions. Talking to oneself can lead to disinhibition or oversharing. when working by telephone or we may see only their head and shoulders e.
when working on an online video platform. This can lead to either party assigning a persona or imagined characteristics to the other. Clients who use telephone or email counselling can be particularly susceptible to this; this can lead to professional boundaries being crossed.
Emily Finch, a lawyer who studies identity theft in cyberspace, observes that people might see cyberspace as a game in which the standard rules of everyday interaction do not apply.
Clients may see online therapy as just a game to play out a fantasy, and this can happen with telephone counselling, where the client is a voice on the end of the telephone. In the online world, status and authority are significantly reduced. Therapists may find that the power balance is very different online. The main area to consider here is that of boundaries, which can be breached when disinhibition kicks in.
Scamming is the type of catfishing which gets the highest amount of media attention, due to the huge amounts of money which is commonly asked for.
Frequently these story-lines run a narrative of love to which money is the only thing stopping the online companions being with one another. They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come.
The motivations behind three main types of catfishing will be explored friends and revenge, aesthetics, and money scam later within interview transcripts; all of whom presented as the opposing sex. As clearly shown above there are many motivations which lead individuals to create fake profiles.
Within my research I look into three cases of catfishing, each with different motivations, alongside autobiographical narration of being catfished myself. Within the literature analysis there will be a severe focus on the online disinhibition effect creating deeper understanding of how online relationships intensify so rapidly and without face-to-face contact. The research intends to categorise the autoethnography and interviews within the five main factors which are attributed to the online disinhibition effect; aiming to create a comprehensive understanding of the motivations and the ways in which catfishing is such a large phenomenon.
During my study, despite the study being one of an auto-ethnographic nature, I still conducted research which I believe would benefit the study overall. I conducted interviews as well as an online survey. The interviews I conducted were with individuals who knew about the topic of my study and came to me themselves willing to participate in the interviews, as they have had experiences with catfishing themselves.
I treated each interview as a separate case study to understand the story behind each case of catfishing, in hopes of gaining a wide understanding of the intentions, motivations, and causes, to investigate how these all come together as integral parts of the ways social networking sites have allowed for the online disinhibition effect to manifest itself within our day to day lives.
Throughout the study, I will not only be telling my story of being catfished but the stories of the interviewed participants; Katie, Becca, and Laura; all who have been catfished but with different motivations behind each one. Due to the time-consuming nature of unstructured interviews and transcribing them Miller and Brewer, , it was important that I kept the interviews as short as possible focusing on the main information I needed for effective research.
For my research, it was important to conduct it in an auto-ethnographic manner. This was due to the research being intrinsically linked to my own experience of being deceived online. Due to the fact that an autoethnography focuses on the self, it can be problematic for the ethical considerations Ellis, The problem of obtaining or not obtaining consent to be included in the narrative must be considered Miller and Bell, ; due to this ethical issue within the methodology of the research I obtained consent from all subjects within my ethnography, under the pretence that only pseudonyms will be used to keep identities anonymous.
Another ethical consideration lies within writing the autoethnography in first or third person Wyatt, ; I chose to write my research in the first person as it seemed to be the only way to affectively write the story, as I wanted the readers to immerse themselves into my experience and the experience of those I interviewed.
When deciding upon what type of interview; in regard to a structed or informal interview, I focused upon the topic in hand. Due to the fact the study is based on personal stories, which can have strong emotional connections tied to them, it was important to keep that in mind. I decided upon an informal interview, to keep the atmosphere of the interview as relaxed as possible so the participants felt they could express themselves in whichever way they wished and had the opportunity to tell their story how they wanted it to be told.
Despite deciding on an informal interview there were a few questions which I believed was important; how did you meet the fake account? How long were you in contact? What was the type of conversation which was had? When did you find out you were being catfished?
Why were you being catfished? The interviews were all recorded, and a transcript was written in order for me to be able to analyse the interviews effectively. When conducting the interviews, it was incredibly important to not ask any leading questions which may later be construed as interviewer bias; to prevent this, I simply asked the participant to tell me their story of being catfished in as much detail as possible so I can answer my questions simply from the transcript instead.
There were many advantages to the informal interview Bulmer, which I believed was important to my study. The interview being respondent led, flexible and the ability to give empowerment to the participant Devine, were all equally important to make sure there was a strong rapport with them as well as having the time to give empathy and understanding when need be.
However, despite knowing that the informal interview was the method I was going to be using to conduct these interviews it was clear that I needed to understand the potential disadvantages to the method in a bid to rule out as many as possible. As mentioned previously, interviewer bias Bulmer, is one of the largest disadvantages with an informal interview as because there is more conversation between the interviewer and the participant some bias can feed into the conversation.
It is also difficult to quantify the data presented within the interview Gubrium, However, the interviews are going to be used as a format of real stories to balance with academic analysis, to create a study which focuses around real people and real stories as well as the academic work behind why people may behave this way online. The way in which I am using the interviews, however, is not one of making anyone look better or worse, but to simply give story and context to the research surrounding the topic.
As part of my auto-ethnographic study, I also conducted an online survey in line with Sue, The survey asked questions such as if they the participants had ever used online dating platforms, been catfished, or misrepresented themselves online.
The survey was placed upon my Facebook profile to gain as wide of a response as possible. However, due to the sensitive nature of some of the questions, participants lying on the survey is arguably one of the largest disadvantages to my study. In accordance to the previous disadvantage having a large impact upon my study, the low response rate also had a large impact upon my study.
With a potential of 2, responses, I only received 54 responses, which was hugely disappointing. Nevertheless, I believe my results are reliable and show a range of experience with catfishing and online social behaviour. The case study looked upon three main topics; Informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, and anonymity.
Concerning the online survey and the interviews conducted all participants were given an information sheet and interview consent form. Throughout my research, primary data collection is the main method used in addition to secondary data for the literature review. A reason primary research was conducted was because it allowed for much more tailored results Olsen, , especially with a topic as specific as this research, it was important to collect the correct type of information.
The primary research method to which I used, was one of a qualitative nature; as the research was based upon autobiography, interviews, and online survey analysis. The ways in which data was collected were based upon the aims which my research was based upon Brinkmann, In regard to the interviews conducted, the data collection method was fairly straight forward, as mentioned previously, the interviewed participants were asked to tell their stories of being catfished, later to be transcribed and then imbedded within the five factors of the online disinhibition effect alongside part of the autoethnography.
The online survey was similarly straight forward; a survey was produced online find the questions in appendix C which was subsequently posted on my social media accounts. Secondary data collection was equally as important, due to the requirement of academic literature analysis. Alongside the positives of the method including high validity, as the articles used often maintain a high level of expertise and professionalism, and also the quantity of data available, which is hugely beneficial due to the specific nature of the topic Stewart, This chapter has outlined the research methodology and strategy that was developed in order to answer the protentional ethical and methodical issues which surround the online disinhibition affect, online dating and social media in regard to catfishing and deception online.
The chapter has acknowledged the advantages and disadvantages surrounding the methodology of qualitive data collection which were used within the research. The analysis in this chapter is an attempt to confront some of the methodological weaknesses of self-reporting techniques such as online interviews, unstructured interviews and auto-ethnographic research. Each of the five factors, of the online disinhibition effect, is structured as separate sections in which there is autobiography, the catfishing narrative of the interviewed participants, and literature analysis to give understanding to the motivations and potential causes behind the phenomenon of catfishing.
When I started secondary school, I struggled to make a close group of friends, however shortly after starting year 8 and being in a new form class, myself and 2 other girls made up a very close group of friends; we did everything together. At this time, we communicated online via platforms known as MSN and Skype, through these, at the time, social media platforms, we communicated throughout all of our spare time. As mentioned previously we all lived very far apart from one another, the furthest journey from one house to another was around 30 minutes by car or around an hour and half potentially by varying means of public transport dependent on days and times.
One particular day, one of the girls, which we will call Lois, came into school proclaiming that she has made some new friends from around her area, all boys, all quite good looking. As two fairly impressionable girls, we went along with it not questioning any false intentions. There was 5 of them; Alex, Aiden, Snake, Lexi and Drew. Each new friend has a different personality and relationship within the group, Lexi was romantically interested in myself, Aiden was romantically interested in my other friend Eleanor El for short , Alex was dating Lois and Snake and Drew were interested in each other.
When it comes to social media in the 21 st century, the ease of creating new friends online is incredibly simple; one click, and a request is sent. For many academics who have researched catfishing behaviour online emphasise that anonymity is the main factor Barak, Suler also argued that individuals who are disinhibited online, in regard to dissociative anonymity, tend to compartmentalise their online identity into a different separate identity from their real-world persona Lapidot-Lefler et al, This allows for the individuals creating fake profiles to not own up to their own behaviours as they see the behaviours not as their own but as their online personas Suler, I communicated with my new crush, Lexi, over MSN mainly and occasionally via text.
The narrative of their lives was coherent and something which I could relate to. Asynchronicity, one of the six factors Suler , describes the gap in time between a message being sent and being read. Being able to choose what to say and how to say it, takes away the continuous feedback loop which a face-to-face conversation has; the removal of this aspect of conversation gives way for a tailored, thought out pattern on communication Taylor, A type of communication which every message is thought through, giving way for a higher level of manipulation to occur Joinson, People do not have to worry about confrontation to their story.
Lois and her 5 new friends created a band, they would spend most evenings together practising, rehearsing and recording different songs together; songs which El and I would get send; songs which revolved around the admiration Lexi and Aiden had for us.
This, as a young, naïve, year-old, seemed normal and something which I had dreamt of; an attractive male proclaiming his love in a song he has written for me. It was all I wanted. In a likewise fashion to my own excitement at meeting the boys. However, they never arrived; neither did Lois. Lois would invite us to go to the movies together, again, under the pretence that the boys would be joining us for a date night.
Similarly, to dissociative anonymity, invisibility is one of the five factors of the online disinhibition effect, as is also a key factor in regard to catfishing online Suler, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, just like MSN and Skype, are all text-driven platforms; although most platforms like the ones named do have the capability to use video communication, many individuals use the platforms for text-driven communication Kaskazi, The main reason for this is due to the potentially time-consuming manner which video communication has.
Video calling has increased in popularity over time due to the ease of face-time and Facebook video calling via their messenger server. Invisibility, in the context of the online disinhibition effect, may give one he courage to do and say whatever they wish. Notwithstanding the fact that this concept of invisibility is closely linked to dissociative anonymity, the differences surface when distinguishing that anonymity is the lack of real-world identity; Whereas, invisibility is acknowledging that the real-world identity may be present but the fact that one cannot be seen or heard is the defining factor Hollenbaugh et al, This technique is similar to the context of talking to an online companion with the mediation of a screen.
The reasons why analysts in psycho-analytic therapy conduct themselves in such a manner is so that the patient cannot see their facial expressions and body language; this is to allow the patient to feel disinhibited with what they wish to discuss Suler, This deceiving behaviour continued for a while.
A long while. I was distraught. I was panicking, what had happened? It was a car crash. All the boys had died in a car crash. In our confusion with the whole situation El and I came up with a plan; figure out what happened. We printed off every conversation we had, collected any recordings of songs, presents, any content which we could, and we went to a local coffee shop.
Although it may be obvious, having a strong imagination is arguably a given when discussing factors into why and how people lie and deceive people online. One of the celebrated aspects of cyberspace is the freedom to escape from day-to-day life; however, when the concept of freedom is taken too far, it can allow for individuals to disassociate from the happenings in cyberspace with the psychological processes of creating false identities and imaginary personas online Suler, The creation of an imaginary character and therefore a false narrative magnifies disinhibition Suler, Whether one may know it, consciously or unconsciously, when one creates an online character, with a separate online persona dissociative anonymity , it is easy for one to believe the online character lives within a separate space with other online characters; emphasising the chance to create a false narrative within cyberspace.
Synopsis : The online disinhibition effect is a phenomenon that seeks to explain why individuals feel like they can express themselves more openly in cyberspaces, without the fear of consequence.
Dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimisation of status and authority are factors that have been found to cultivate this sense of online disinhibition. This disinhibition then goes on to impact self-disclosure, which may be either toxic or benign, depending on how we choose to use this freedom of expression. As frequent internet and social media users, we all notice the damaging hate speech and blatant harassment on online platforms.
We are also aware that the internet trolls spewing this hate are usually anonymous bots or people who do not dare to make threatening or hateful remarks outside cyberspace; in the real world. Psychologists and researchers largely agree that such inappropriate online behaviour is the result of a phenomenon that John Suler termed the online disinhibition effect. The online disinhibition effect is the tendency of people to express themselves more freely and without social restraints on an online platform.
However, Suler argues that this freedom to express oneself without psychological and social constraints should not be commended at all times.
Instead, it is the primary cause of the relentless and vicious bullying and anti-social behaviour that has now come to define the world of social media. Suler further identifies six factors inherent in cyberspace that contribute to the feeling of online disinhibition:. In cyberspace, people are primarily identified by their usernames or email addresses. These are chosen by the individuals themselves and therefore only allow us access to as much information as the individual is willing to share.
Thus, in most cases, we are unable to trace online communication back to their accurate or authentic person of origin, which allows people to remain virtually anonymous.
Such anonymity also creates a sense of dissociation because individuals can conduct themselves in a certain way online, which does not and will not impact their offline existence. The online gaming universe is one such cyberspace where individuals indulge in abusive exchanges without the consequences of such actions having any effect on their real social lives.
This mainly applies to text-based online interactions such as chat rooms, blogs and websites where individuals communicate and share without revealing their faces. It is a concept similar to anonymity; however, it differs from it. Under invisibility, people may share personal and sensitive information with each other, unlike in anonymity, but still, never see each other.
Invisibility deepens inhibition because people do not have to worry about their physical appearance, clothes, body language, and other non-verbal cues of communication. Non-verbal cues such as tone and gestures generally act as inhibitors and therefore impede free communication.
Asynchronous communication refers to communication that does not take place in real-time. This is the case with emails, text messages and message boards. In these situations, since people do not receive immediate responses and also do not have to respond immediately, it creates a feeling of disinhibition.
In real-time conversations, verbal and non-verbal cues from the other side impact our self-disclosure and behavioural responses. These are absent from online platforms wherein people take minutes, hours and even days to respond to communication.
In online communication via texts, emails, etc. Furthermore, in the absence of facial cues, our minds may also unconsciously assign faces and attitudes to the people we interact with online. In this manner, we create an introjected character in our intrapsychic world. Their persona is based not only on the information they choose to reveal through their messages but also a projection of our own expectations, desires, and needs.
Thus, our mind may unconsciously perceive these conversations as happening with oneself and thereby contribute to the disinhibition effect. When we create characters out of the people we interact with online, we dissociate or split from this online universe. This means that our minds unconsciously start to believe that our authentic selves are different from our online selves, which exist in this other virtual make-believe realm where the responsibilities and constraints of the offline world do not apply.
This perceived gap between the online and offline world amplifies the feeling of disinhibition. In online interactions, individuals are not always aware of the status that other people hold in the offline world. This is because authority and status are expressed mainly through non-verbal cues such as dress, distance, body language, etc. This allows individuals to express themselves more openly because the fear of disapproval is mitigated when the perception of authority is minimised, thus fostering online disinhibition.
In examining the effects of the online disinhibition effect, Suler distinguishes between benign disinhibition and toxic disinhibition. The benign disinhibition effect is the positive side of the dichotomy and refers to the healthy acts of self-disclosure performed by individuals, especially adolescents, on social media.
Studies have found that individuals are more likely to divulge personal information that may be sensitive or embarrassing on social media because of the sense of anonymity provided by the platform. It is termed positive because individuals report feeling a cathartic sense of relief from being able to express their feelings openly. The benign disinhibition effect also provides typically shy, introverted, marginalised and neurotic people with an opportunity to communicate their thoughts and ideas.
Some even argue that online disinhibition may inspire or at least foster pro-social behaviour. People are more likely to ask for and offer help on social media platforms. In contrast, we have the toxic disinhibition effect representing the negative aspect of the online disinhibition effect. This manifests in the form of threats of physical harm or death, online stalking, bullying, harassment and other similar anti-social behaviour, which are most evident in online gaming, pornographic platforms and bodies disseminating politically or culturally sensitive information.
These are all primarily caused by the anonymity and invisibility factors of online disinhibition. Because individuals feel like they cannot be identified as perpetrators of hate and violence, there is hardly a sense of accountability. It is pertinent to study the effects of online disinhibition in a global climate where most of our daily interactions take place in cyberspaces. Furthermore, the COVID pandemic has a shift in channels of communication and dissemination of information.
Therefore, understanding the pros and cons of online disinhibition and how they impact our lives at micro and macro levels becomes essential. Psychology of Cyberspace — The Online Disinhibition Effect. Suler, J. The Online Disinhibition Effect. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Lapidot-Lefler, N. The benign online disinhibition effect: Could situational factors induce self-disclosure and prosocial behaviors?
Effects of anonymity, invisibility, and lack of eye contact on toxic online disinhibition. Computers in Human Behavior, 28 2 , — She displays a keen interest in the social sciences and is passionate about writing. She wishes to apply her education in the domain of social work in the future.
Reading, swimming and travelling are some activities that keep her going. Become Tutor: Teach Online. Intern With Us. Factors that Foster Online Disinhibition Suler further identifies six factors inherent in cyberspace that contribute to the feeling of online disinhibition: Dissociative Anonymity In cyberspace, people are primarily identified by their usernames or email addresses.
Asynchronicity Asynchronous communication refers to communication that does not take place in real-time. Solipsistic Introjection In online communication via texts, emails, etc. Dissociative Imagination When we create characters out of the people we interact with online, we dissociate or split from this online universe. Minimisation of Status and Authority In online interactions, individuals are not always aware of the status that other people hold in the offline world. Benign and Toxic Online Disinhibition In examining the effects of the online disinhibition effect, Suler distinguishes between benign disinhibition and toxic disinhibition.
References Psychology of Cyberspace — The Online Disinhibition Effect. Related Posts: Why do we want to share everything on social media? Footer About us. Take Online Tuitions. Telegram Channel. Search this website.
· Suler breaks down six factors that cause online disinhibition: Dissociative anonymity (“You don’t know me”) This is one of the principal factors behind the online Missing: online dating The online disinhibition effect is the tendency of people to express themselves more freely and without social restraints on an online platform. However, Suler () argues that this freedom The disinhibition effect is a psychological factor that can manifest itself in a remote therapeutic relationship. Understanding online disinhibition and how to work with it is a vital part of Online disinhitbition theory is the way people express themselves while using cyberspace. Users of online dating sites tend to be more comfortable online than they are with face-to · Abstract. 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 · As noted by scholars, the functionality of online spaces can lead to an online disinhibition effect wherein users act more aggressively or intensely online than they would ... read more
Each of the interviewed participants were faced with different motivations behind the fake identity:. Devine, F. Some even argue that online disinhibition may inspire or at least foster pro-social behaviour. Therapists may find that the power balance is very different online. Cyberspace and behaviour Talking to oneself can lead to disinhibition or oversharing. and Suler, J.Kramer August During my study, despite the study being one of an auto-ethnographic nature, disinhibition effect online dating, I still conducted research which I believe would benefit the study overall. Neuroticism, extraversion, and online self-presentation among young adults. Clients may see online therapy as just a game to play out a fantasy, and this can happen with telephone counselling, where the client is a voice on the end of the telephone. A type of communication which every message is thought through, giving way for a higher level of manipulation to occur Joinson,