Many explanations of both pro- and anti-social behaviors in computer-mediated communication (CMC) appear to hinge on changes in individual self-awareness. In spite of this, little research has been devoted to understanding the effects of self-awareness in CMC. To fill this void, this study examined the effects of individuals' public and private self-awareness in anonymous, time-restricted, and synchronous CMC. Two experiments were conducted. A pilot experiment tested and confirmed the effectiveness of using a Web camera combined with an alleged online audience to enhance users' public self-awareness. In the main study users' private and public self-awareness were manipulated in a crossed 2 × 2 factorial design. Pairs of participants completed a Desert Survival Problem via a synchronous, text-only chat program. After the task, they evaluated each other on intimacy, task/social orientation, formality, politeness, attraction, and group identification. The results suggest that a lack of private and public self-awareness does not automatically lead to impersonal tendencies in CMC as deindividuation perspectives of CMC would argue. Moreover, participants in this study were able to form favorable impressions in a completely anonymous environment based on brief interaction, which lends strong support to the idealization proposed by hyperpersonal theory. Findings are used to modify and extend current theoretical perspectives on CMC.
- Computer-mediated communication
- Hyperpersonal theory
- Impression formation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Human-Computer Interaction