Online Disinhibition Effect

But have you ever stopped to consider why people feel invincinble online? Or why they get so angry? A study in the US helps explain half of it.

Arthur Santana, a communications professor at the University of Houston, analysed hundreds of comments on stories from the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Houston Chronicle and USA Today. His findings, published in the New Yorker, revealed a “perceptible difference” in the nature of comments from users who revealed their identity and those who posted anonymously.

Of the hundreds of comments, 53 per cent of anonymous commenters were uncivil, as opposed to only 29 per cent of non-anonymous commenters. Their behaviour is rooted in three words: Online. Disinhibition. Effect.

The theory, established by psychologist John Suler, asserts “while online, some people self-disclose or act out more frequently or intensely than they would in person”.

Invisibility is one of the factors.

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