The Psychology of Personal Web Sites

The Psychology of Personal Web Sites

Karl-Heinz Renner (Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg, Germany) and Astrid Schütz (Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch021
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Abstract

This chapter reviews psychological research on personal Web sites, on their owners and on the effects personal Web sites may have on visitors. Personal Web sites were conceptualized as media for self-presentation and identity construction. Converging evidence is reported with regard to the elements found on Web sites and to the demographics, personality characteristics, intentions and self-presentational goals of their owners. The popular and somewhat intuitive notion that Web sites are narcissistic media or platforms for vanity and exhibitionism does not apply to the average Web site owner. Empirical findings on personality expressions of Web site owners and personality impressions people form after a brief visit of the sites are presented. Initial results show that objective features of personal Web sites are associated with self and visitor-rated personality traits of the owners. It is concluded that more longitudinal research is needed to fully understand the dynamics of identity management on personal Web sites.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Presentation: The attempt to communicate self-images to interaction partners. These images may be authentic or non-authentic.

Web Logs: Web logs, or “blogs,” are regularly updated Web sites on which content (text, pictures, soundfiles, etc.) is posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order (Schmidt, in press).

Self-Presentation: The attempt to communicate self-images to interaction partners. These images may be authentic or non-authentic.

Strong vs. Weak Situation: A distinction introduced by Mischel (1977). A strong situation exerts pressure to behave in a certain way, which leads to similar behavior across people. Weak situations contain little pressure as to an appropriate behavior. People’s reactions diverge and are largely guided by individual traits. Personal identity-related Web sites can be seen as weak situations.

Personality Characteristics or Traits: Stable dispositions pertaining to certain thoughts, feelings, or actions. Traits distinguish people from one another and occur consistently across different situations.

Narcissism: A personality trait that refers to self-centeredness and inflated but fragile self-esteem.

Narcissism: A personality trait that refers to self-centeredness and inflated but fragile self-esteem.

Strong vs. Weak Situation: A distinction introduced by Mischel (1977). A strong situation exerts pressure to behave in a certain way, which leads to similar behavior across people. Weak situations contain little pressure as to an appropriate behavior. People’s reactions diverge and are largely guided by individual traits. Personal identity-related Web sites can be seen as weak situations.

Personal Web site: A Web site that is written (partly or wholly) by and about an individual and contains self-selected personalized job or identity-related information.

Identity Construction: Any attempt to create, maintain or enhance views about oneself.

Identity Construction: Any attempt to create, maintain or enhance views about oneself.

Personal Web site: A Web site that is written (partly or wholly) by and about an individual and contains self-selected personalized job or identity-related information.

Personality Characteristics or Traits: Stable dispositions pertaining to certain thoughts, feelings, or actions. Traits distinguish people from one another and occur consistently across different situations.

Web Logs: Web logs, or “blogs,” are regularly updated Web sites on which content (text, pictures, soundfiles, etc.) is posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order (Schmidt, in press).

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