John Suler

While online, some people self-disclose or act out more frequently or intensely than they would in person (i.e., they say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn’t ordinarily say and do in the face-to-face world.) Factors that interact with each other in creating this online disinhibition effect include:

  • dissociative anonymity,
  • invisibility,
  • asynchronicity,
  • solipsistic introjection,
  • dissociative imagination, and
  • minimization of authority.

The result can be benign (unusual acts of kindness and generosity), or it can be toxic (rude language, harsh criticisms, anger, hatred, even threats).
Personality variables also will influence the extent of this disinhibition. Rather than thinking of disinhibition as the revealing of an underlying “true self,” we can conceptualize it as a shift to a constellation within self-structure, involving clusters of affect and cognition that differ from the in-person constellation.

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