Adolescents' Sexual Self-Disclosure on the Internet: Deindividuation and Impression Management

By Chiou, Wen-Bin | Adolescence, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

Adolescents' Sexual Self-Disclosure on the Internet: Deindividuation and Impression Management


Chiou, Wen-Bin, Adolescence


Adolescents' sexuality in real life has been widely explored in past research on such subjects as sexual attitudes (Werner-Wilson, 1998), sexual orientation (Frankowski, 2004), homosexuality (Harrison, 2003), sexual knowledge (Fisher, 1986), sexual behavior (Cubbin, Santelli, Brindis, & Braveman, 2005; Gowen, Feldman, Diaz, & Yisrael, 2004; Rostosky, Wilcox, Wright, & Randall, 2004), and sex education (Somers & Gleason, 2001; Song, Pruitt, McNamara, & Colwell, 2000). However, human sexuality on the Internet is a growing area of research in the social sciences (Cooper, 1998; 2002). Researchers have only recently begun to gather empirical data concerning online sexuality activity (OSA). To date, empirical studies have focused on the variety of OSAs (Cooper, Scherer, Boies, & Gordon, 1999), their categorization (Cooper & Griffin-Shelley, 2002), and online sexual problems (Cooper, Delmonico, & Burg, 2000; Cooper, Griffin-Shelley, Delmonico, & Mathy, 1999; Schneider, 2000). Only a few studies were addressed on the subject of adolescents' cybersex (e.g., Lo & Wei, 2005; Cameron, Salazar, Bernhardt, & Burgress-Whitman, 2005). How adolescents self-disclosure sexual information about themselves in cyberspace in largely unknown. The present study explored gender differences in adolescents' sexual self-disclosure on the Internet, the effect of anonymity on their willingness to self-disclose, and how they respond to others' sexual self-disclosure.

Deindividuation Effect and Sexual Self-Disclosure in Cyberspace

Previous perspectives proposed that self-disclosure and intimacy of relationship are synonymous, and that self-disclosure can function as an indicator of intimacy in interpersonal relations (Jourard, 1971). According to the social penetration model (Altman & Taylor, 1973), individuals will be more likely to self-disclose sexual information to intimate partners in real life. However, personal identification on the Internet is highly anonymous (Wallace, 2001) and can produce a deindividuated state which may bring about further disinhibition of one's antinormative behavior (Postmes & Spears, 1998). Therefore, sexual self-disclosure on the Internet may not depend on the intimacy of relationship as it does in real life.

Festinger, Pepitone, and Newcomb (1952) described deindividuation as a psychological state in which inner restraints are lost when "individuals are not seen or paid attention to as individuals" (p. 283). Anonymity, in particular, has been identified as one of the key causes of deindividuation (Zimbardo, 1969). A significant number of studies have demonstrated that deindividuation is likely to motivate individuals to behave in antinormative ways (e.g., Ellison, Govern, Petri, & Figler, 1995; Rehm, Steinleitner, & Lilli, 1987; Zimbardo, 1975).

As to Internet sexuality, for example, Lin and Yeh (1999) pointed out that the anonymity of the Internet ensured users' privacy. They found that, when having cyber sex, the anonymous users could feel free to confide their private thoughts to interactive partners. Wallace (2001) also believed that since the users are anonymous, they would be free of others' evaluation and criticism and thus do things they would not otherwise do. Therefore, it was predicted that adolescents would be more willing to self-disclose sexual information when their identities on the Internet are anonymous.

Gender and Sexual Self-Disclosure in Cyberspace

With regard to self-disclosure in real life, the consistent findings of previous research has been that females are more willing than males to provide profound self-disclosure to others (Caldwell & Peplau, 1982; Dindia & Allen, 1992; Reisman, 1990). Females believe that they reveal more about themselves and are more likely to be the recipients of others' self-disclosure (Buhrke & Fuqua, 1987; Snell, Miller, & Belk, 1988). In fact, females disclose themselves not only more frequently than do males, but are more willing to disclose intimate details than are males (Davidson & Duberman, 1982). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Adolescents' Sexual Self-Disclosure on the Internet: Deindividuation and Impression Management
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.