Blogging and self-disclosure: the role of anonymity, self-awareness, and perceived audience

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University of Alabama Libraries

Research indicates that the self-disclosure of personal views may occur more often online but that the repercussions for such disclosure may have severely negative consequences (Bargh & McKenna, 2004;Bray, 2004; Nussbaum, 2004). The current study sought to obtain a better understanding of the effect of anonymity, self-awareness, and perceived audience on self-disclosure. The experimental design was a 2 (Anonymity: high vs. low) by 3 (Perceived audience: none vs. limited vs. everyone) between subjects design. Self-awareness--assessed using a measure of trait self-consciousness--was investigated as a mediator of the relation between self-disclosure and the independent variables. To examine this, participants visited the lab at two times. At time 1, they filled out individual difference measures. At time 2, participants were told that they were helping test new blogging software and were asked to write about the typical day of a student. Anonymity was manipulated by either asking participants to enter their full name as their userid (low anonymity) or were told their anonymous userid would be "green". Participants were then told that their blog entry would be deleted, visible to all participants in the study, or published to the Internet and visible to all. Results indicated that, while the manipulation check data revealed that the manipulations worked as intended, the analysis of the blog entries indicated that were no significant differences in self-disclosure. Thus, our results suggest that individuals who self-disclose online are not affected by anonymity or audience size.

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Behavioral sciences, Behavioral psychology