Online Self-Disclosure: Opportunities for Enriching Existing Friendships

Online Self-Disclosure: Opportunities for Enriching Existing Friendships

Malinda Desjarlais (Mount Royal University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9412-3.ch001
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Due to their audiovisual anonymity and asynchronicity, social media have the potential to enhance self-disclosure, and thereby facilitate closeness among existing friends. In this chapter, the author highlights findings relating to the beneficial social connectedness outcomes that can be linked to online self-disclosure, synthesizes relevant literature that addresses who reaps the most benefits from online self-disclosure, and makes suggestions to direct future research in this area. Theoretical perspectives are identified throughout the chapter that are relevant to understanding the benefits of online self-disclosure, the relation between personal characteristics as predictors of online self-disclosure, and moderating factors of the effect of online self-disclosure on social connectedness. Empirical findings support both social compensation and social enhancement perspectives.
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According to the interpersonal process model of intimacy, intimacy is the product of a transactional, interpersonal process in which two fundamental components of intimacy are self-disclosure and partner responsiveness (Laurenceau, Barrett, & Pietromonaco, 1998; Reis & Patrick, 1996; Reis & Shaver, 1988). According to this perspective, intimacy develops on an interaction-by-interaction basis, where an individual discloses personally relevant information, thoughts and feelings to a partner, and receives a response, which is interpreted as the partner’s understanding, validating, and caring (Reis & Patrick, 1996). Mutual disclosure leads to greater liking and feelings of closeness and contributes to healthy social development (Chan & Lee, 2014; Sprecher, Treger, Wondra, Hilaire, & Wallpe, 2013). Over time, individuals interpret and assimilate their experiences in these interactions, and form a general perception of the degree to which the friendship is intimate and meaningful (Reis, 1994). Recently, adolescents and young adults have turned to the Internet to help meet their need for self-disclosure.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Asynchronicity: The exchanges of messages intermittently rather than in real-time. Delays between receiving and sending messages can occur.

Social media: Online platforms that permit users to create a profile, as well as connect and exchange information about oneself with other members. Examples include social networking sites, instant messaging services, blogging sites, and multiplayer online games.

Online Self-Disclosure: The sharing of intimate information about the self on social media.

Audiovisual Anonymity: A lack or reduction of nonverbal (visual or auditory) cues conveyed during a conversation with one or more partners.

Self-Disclosure: The sharing of personally relevant thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Moderating Variables: A third variable that affects the strength of the relationship between two or more variables.

Antecedent Variable: An independent variable that precedes other independent variables in time. It comes earlier in an explanation or chain of causal links.

Online Communication: The use of social media to send messages to other users.

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