Self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication: The role of self-awareness and visual anonymity



Three studies examined the notion that computer-mediated communication (CMC) can be characterised by high levels of self-disclosure. In Study One, significantly higher levels of spontaneous self-disclosure were found in computer-mediated compared to face-to-face discussions. Study Two examined the role of visual anonymity in encouraging self-disclosure during CMC. Visually anonymous participants disclosed significantly more information about themselves than non-visually anonymous participants. In Study Three, private and public self-awareness were independently manipulated, using video-conferencing cameras and accountability cues, to create a 2 × 2 design public self-awareness (high and low)×private self-awareness (high and low). It was found that heightened private self-awareness, when combined with reduced public self-awareness, was associated with significantly higher levels of spontaneous self-disclosure during computer-mediated communication. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.