The Online Disinhibition Effect(There is such a thing)

Suler, John. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Vol 7, Issue 3. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. June 2004. Online. 25 Oct 2013. <http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/1094931041291295>

This is the first psychology research paper/article that I’ve read on the subject of anonymity, and it’s chock full of goodies. There is actually a term that describes what my entire argument is about. They call it the Online Disinhibition Effect, and it essentially states that people become this way due to a variety of reasons that all act upon one another to create a synergistic effect. It is caused by “dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solupsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority.” I think the biggest part that could help my thesis would be the absence of authority. Suler states that without an authoritative figure that would normal express their power through clothing, body language, etc, people don’t feel the normal pressure of say the police looking over their every action. Cyberspace gives everyone an equal voice, and people don’t have to worry about getting disapproval or punishment from a higher power. I could go on and on about why this paper is great, but everything is already pretty much summed up nicely. The one thing I should note is that Suler also talked about benign disinhibition, where the user actually opens up more than in real life. I think this could provide a good counter argument to my psychological standpoint, where I think anonymity just causes people to act more aggressively and spitefully. This is not always the case, and Suler even says that the effect goes both ways in extremity. The other parts of the definition are also really important, and I will probably base the rest of my research on defining these characteristics more.

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