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Computer-Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships

Edited By Kevin B. Wright and Lynne M. Webb

This is the first collection of readings on computer-mediated communication focusing exclusively on interpersonal interactions. Examining messages exchanged via email, Twitter, Facebook, websites, and blogs, the authors analyze communication issues of ongoing importance in relationships including deception, disclosure, identity, influence, perception, privacy, sexual fidelity, and social support. The book examines subjects that attract intense student interest – including online performance of gender, online dating, and using computer-mediated communication to achieve family/work life balance – and will inspire further research and course development in the area of computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. Because it provides a synthesis of ideas at the nexus of interpersonal communication theory and computer-mediated communication theory, the book can serve as a textbook for advanced undergraduate as well as graduate courses.
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9. Online Self-Disclosure: A Review of Research (Jinsuk Kim / Kathryn Dindia)

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CHAPTER NINE

Online Self-Disclosure: A Review of Research

Jinsuk Kim

Kathryn Dindia

Computer-mediated environments, such as social networking sites and online dating sites, provide us with a variety of opportunities to initiate, develop, and maintain interpersonal relationships. Self-disclosure is a key factor in developing relationships in online environments as it is in face-to-face (FtF) contexts (Dindia, 2000). Researchers have been examining how individuals present themselves in online environments and the factors that influence the way individuals disclose personal information in online settings. There has been an accumulation of research on self-disclosure with respect to FtF contexts (e.g., Collins & Miller, 1994; Derlega, Metts, Petronio, & Margulis, 1993; Dindia, 2002; Dindia & Allen, 1992; Jourard, 1971); however, there has been no comprehensive review of research on how people disclose personal information in various online settings and how this disclosure affects interpersonal relationships.

The traditional definition of self-disclosure refers to only intentional, “verbal” expressions of the self, and does not include nonverbal cues, such as how people dress, as disclosure. However, this definition of self-disclosure may not be adequate for online communication. Online self-disclosure may include nonverbal communication, including pictures posted of self, which may be a conscious mechanism used to disclose self. This is not the case in FtF settings where there is less opportunity to change appearances. How we present ourselves physically, both online and offline, can be manipulated (through dress, make up, etc.); however, in online settings, depending on...

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