Online Disinhibition Effect: Why We Behave the Way We Do On The Internet

Why do we shout and scream at each other on the internet? Why do we tend to lash out? Why do we seem to do the very things on the internet that we would never do in our lives outside of these online spaces?

The online disinhibition effect is term used to describe the reduction or abandonment of social restrictions and inhibitions found in normal face-to-face communication when using remote electronic communications.

6 Factors Cause This Effect

“You don’t know me”

When a person remains anonymous, it provides a sense of protection. This allows the user to move about without any kind of indication of identity or even distinguishing characteristics other than a username. This kind of protection provides a meaningful release for people. You may feel free to say things they might otherwise be embarrassed by. It also provides an outlet for behaviors that might otherwise be termed ‘antisocial’ or ‘harmful’.

“You can’t see me”

The Internet allows for misrepresentation of a person’s true self – a male can pose as a female and vice versa, for example. Additionally, the invisibility of the Internet prohibits people from reading standard social cues: changes in facial expression, tone of voice etc. All of these have an effect in normal face-to-face interactions. But as one cannot be physically seen on the Internet, typically: therefore, the need to concern oneself with appearance and tone of voice is dramatically lowered and sometimes absent.

“See you later”

The asynchronous nature of the Internet can affect a person’s inhibitions. On Internet message boards, conversations do not happen in real time. You may abuse someone online, log off, eat your food and go to bed peacefully while comment is catching fire on the internet. Because of this effect, it’s easier for someone to “throw their opinions out” and then “run away”.

“It’s all in my head”

The human mind assigns characteristics and traits to a “person” during digital interactions. Reading another person’s message may insert imagined characteristics of what a person looks like or sounds like into the mind and assigns an identity to these things. The mind assigns traits to a user according to an individual’s own desires, needs, and wishes: traits that the real person might not actually have.

“It’s just a game”

People may see cyberspace as a kind of game where the normal rules of everyday interaction don’t apply to them. In this way, the user is able to dissociate their online persona from the offline reality. This effectively enabling the person to don that persona or shed it whenever they wish simply by logging on or off.

“Your rules don’t apply here”

Online, a person’s real life status may not be known to others. If people cannot see the user, others have no way to know if the user is a head of state, a celebrity, or a regular private citizen. While real-world status may have a small effect on one’s status on the Internet, it rarely has any true bearing. On the Internet, levels of authority that might otherwise be present in real life are often completely absent; this turns what might otherwise be a superior-inferior relationship into a relationship of equals, and people are far more likely to speak their mind to an equal than a superior.

 (source:- Psychology of CyberSpace)

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