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Relationship Formation on the Internet: What’s the Big Attraction?



We hypothesized that people who can better disclose their “true” or inner self to others on the Internet than in face-to-face settings will be more likely to form close relationships on-line and will tend to bring those virtual relationships into their “real” lives. Study 1, a survey of randomly selected Internet newsgroup posters, showed that those who better express their true self over the Internet were more likely than others to have formed close on-line relationships and moved these friendships to a face-to-face basis. Study 2 revealed that the majority of these close Internet relationships were still intact 2 years later. Finally, a laboratory experiment found that undergraduates liked each other more following an Internet compared to a face-to-face initial meeting.