The internet and symbolic self-completion: a social influence perspective

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University of Alabama Libraries

The current research examined whether or not the Internet functions as a plane of social reality onto which symbolic self-completion attempts can be directed. Previous research (Borcherding and Schumacher, 2007; Harmon-Jones, Schmeichel, and Harmon-Jones, 2009) suggested that individuals do engage in symbolic self-completion on the Internet, however, this is the first attempt to experimentally capture the effect. The current study was a 2(completeness: incomplete vs. complete) x 2(interruption: interrupted vs. not interrupted) factorial design. We predicted that individuals who were given false feedback designed to elicit feelings of an incomplete self-definition would respond differently than individuals who were not given false feedback to two subsequent opportunities to complete their self-definition. It was also predicted that individuals who were given false feedback in the incomplete condition would respond differently to the second opportunity to complete their self-definition after being interrupted during their first opportunity. A total of 85 (17 male, 68 female) undergraduate students completed the study. Contrary to predictions, there were no main effects for either state of completeness or interruption, nor were there any interaction effects. Suggested modifications in the research design of future related studies are presented and discussed.

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