The Psychology of Social-network Sites

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We have all seen examples of people acting very stupid on Facebook and other social networking sites. They post and talk about things no seemingly normal person would ever admit. One argument is that these sites just make us act dumber, but there is evidence that seeks to explain this phenomena using basic scientific and psychological theories. Throughout the evolution of species avoiding confrontation has had significant advantages, it can prevent you from getting killed by something that is more fit than you. This evolutionary adaptation continues to effect us in social settings. Someone may have an idea but be afraid of confronting the group or the leader because of a natural adaptation to avoid confrontation. The idea is that social sites remove some of the social stigma of acting stupid and going against the group. When less-intelligent people post ignorant statuses they lack the intuition to realize the social implications of their posts. This phenomena is called the online disinhibition effect and was first discovered by John Suler of . While it is possible that these statuses are going to ruin us, in my opinion all that is really happening is that people are becoming more honest and open about their beliefs which is important for society in the long run.


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This is very interesting I have never heard of this before. While I was reading it it also made me think about the stupid stuff that people do on tv shows and in magazines. These people are in the spot light most often becasue of the stupid things they are saying and doing... and with seeing others do things like this I feel that it just becomes more acceptable, but the real question is should it become more acceptable? Great post

I didn't know until now that this phenomena was a studied thing. I find it very interesting because I myself have posted regrettable things onto social media, only later to realize the implications of my actions. I don't see this as necessarily a bad thing for society though. Individuals will learn the consequences of posting such things, and to use the social media to properly conduct themselves. In the meantime, some posts can be pretty funny, and can provide an honest insight into peoples lives.

I find this quite interesting. I do notice that people say things on social sites that they wouldn't normally say in person, but I don't agree that it is all stupid or "dumb" information. Sometimes what people put as their statuses or what they post many can relate to or agree with. I think when it comes to more dramatic situations is when people seem more cowardly rather than dumb by posting their views or feelings in social sites rather than talking to the person the have an issue with.

I think that what people post is their business and if they are to post something unwanted on a social network site than they will bare the consequences of whatever that is. I'm pretty amazed that there's a study on this which is pretty interesting. Sometimes I think people just want attention so they post stupid stuff. It can be a way of relieving one's self for some people, like a public diary I guess.

I agree that sharing opinions on a social networking site can be either helpful or harmful, depending on the situation. I find that some things people post may be offensive to some, but actually make me think about certain issues. On the other hand, there have been plenty of posts by people on Facebook that I'm sure are intended to get a rise out of people. This is rather irritating and I don't think people realize the negative consequences they can have. I think it's important to be open about certain issues, but there are also times when things should be kept off of social networking sites where everyone can read what's going on.

I agree with you that it is important for people to be open and honest, and if social networking helps them out with that, then great. However, I found the part of your post interesting where you discussed that people "lack the intuition to realize the social implications of their posts" is a big issue as well. This results in a lot of offensive posts, misunderstandings, and unnecessary arguments. I see this kind of stuff on facebook every day and I think people would think more about what they post on social networking sites if they saw how it can reflect on them personally in the eyes of others reading their posts.

I find the findings regarding the online disinhibition effect particularly interesting. I agree to the fact that social networking sites do take away the fears of being confrontational, saying things you may not say to someone's face, etc., yet is that the society we want to be a part of? One where we avoid uncomfortable conversation and confrontation at all costs? I think that social networking websites should be used to keep in touch with people, meet new people, etc.; but not as a way for us to vent our 'uninhibited emotions' to the world without taking a second thought. I think that when it comes to dealing with our personal relationships, we should keep it as face to face as possible.

Although it is fairly apparent that people's confidence rises significantly when behind a computer screen versus in person, I did not know that someone had gone as far as to create a scientific theory. However, after reading it, I could not agree more. As scary as it sounds, I think that the person behind the computer screen is an uncensored version of the person you see in face to face. Based on personal observations, I have seen the most unsuspecting people whom I have known personally, completely change when it comes to confronting someone through the social network rather than in person. Although it can be rather disturbing at points, it can provide for minor amusement as well. Not to say I deliberately hunt for drama on the social network, however, when it does appear, I will not shy away from a good read. We all have our weaknesses...

This is a very interesting blog comment. It really makes you think of what is being posted on Facebook and why people are posting these things. I feel like a lot of people think that what they have to share is very important to them/ important but in reality no one really cares what is being said. Most of the time the things being posted on Facebook needs to be kept to themselves, or shared with a friend in person, not on the internet. If someone has something to share that is important to everyone, like a news story, than by all means post it on a social networking site for everyone to see.

This blog is very relevant in today's increasingly technological world where everyone is connected. In all honesty, I think people venting online is really interesting. While it can get annoying, if whatever they post is true, it can give you a glimpse of who they really are, which you might not see in "real life" where people have to fit in to society to be taken seriously.

I agree that it is important for people to voice their opinions and social networking sites allow people to have different views without having to deal with the repercussions of arguing with someone in person. This also has the potential to be a bad thing, though. When the physical contact and ability to see someone's emotional distress is removed from a situation, things can be taken too far. Cyber bullying is a huge problem in our society and has caused a lot of harm to many children. Cyber bullying occurs because it is easier to type hurtful things to an emotionless computer than it is to say to an actual human being.

I have definitely noticed some of my "friends" posting things that I feel they would never say in person. While this can be a good way for people to express themselves, it can also be a negative thing. Due to the anonymity of the internet, many people feel that their words don't have consequences, which is far from the truth.

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This page contains a single entry by piep0142 published on February 27, 2012 2:27 PM.

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