Virtual relationships in social media

  • Virtual relationships in social media:
  • AO1:
  • Self-disclosure:
  • Increasing use of social media has led to research on differences between relationships formed and maintained online and those formed and maintained face-to-face (FtF). Self-disclosure is crucial in FtF relationships so psychologists have turned their attention to its role and nature in virtual relationships - also known as computer-meiated communication (CMC). 
  • Reduced cues theory (Sproull and Keisler) suggests that CMC relationships are less effective due to the lack of nonverbal cues (e.g. physical appearence, emotional reponses) - in FtF relationships we rely on these cues. Lack of cues about emotional state (voice and facial expression) leads to de-individuation. People then feel freer from the contraints of social norms (disinhibition) and this leads to blunt and even aggressive communication and a reluctance to self-disclosure. 
  • Hyperpersonal model (Walther) suggests that early self-disclosure means that CMC relationships can become more intense and intimate. However, CMC relationships can also end more quickly because ig high excitement level but low levels of trust. 
  • Self-disclosure differs in CMC because  their online image can be manipulated. The sender of a message can be selective about what and how they present themselves when self-dosclosing. This, along with the feeling of anonymity, means that people may feel less accountable for their actions and behaviour and disclose more than they would to their nearest non-online partners. 
  • Absence of gating:
  • McKenna and Bargh argue that facial disfigurements or a stammer may be obstacles to a FtF relationship. However, starting a relationship online means that ‘gates’ aren’t there. A relationship can develop and


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