Fired for what you post online?: a self-regulatory perspective on inappropriate online self-presentation

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University of Alabama Libraries

Social media offer the ability to communicate simultaneously to a diverse audience. This creates a risk of sharing inappropriate information that may lead to negative consequences. The present research examined whether failures in self-regulation can explain why some individuals share inappropriate information through social media. Study 1 demonstrated that trait self-control predicted disclosure of self-damaging information on social networking profiles. Individuals low in self-control were more likely to report having posted this type of information. Study 2 tested the effectiveness of an ego-depletion manipulation to be utilized in subsequent studies. In Study 3, individuals with depleted regulatory resources were more likely create mock social networking profiles containing potentially damaging information, regardless of their audience (no audience vs. a low risk audience vs. a high risk audience). Study 4 demonstrated that creating a profile to be seen by multiple audiences influenced performance on a subsequent self-regulatory task. Specifically, creating a profile for multiple social networking audiences led to more time spent creating the profile and worse performance on test questions, suggesting that presentation to multiple audiences may consume more regulatory resources. Finally, Study 5 examined whether being depleted (or not) affected how participants think about their social networking audience (i.e., do they narrowly focus on a small set of social networking friends when they are depleted?). Results reveal that this was not the case. Overall, findings indicate that failures in self-regulation may explain to some extent why individuals share inappropriate information via social media.

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Social psychology