Effects of Communication Type and Gender on Self Disclosure

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Over the past decade, the Internet has become an astonishing phenomenon within itself. Cheng (2006) indicated this widely-used resource boasts over 800 million accessible users throughout the world today. Why the unprecedented recent growth of the World Wide Web? Many users initially began getting online to retrieve information unknown to them and to keep track of recent news. However, additional advantages of active Internet use have recently been discovered, such as communication. The Web has become known as an interactive technological device used to correspond with others on a day-to-day basis. Through online dating sites, personal blogs, and educational forums, relying on the Internet to stay in contact with others has become a societal norm. Yet, according to the Pew Research Center, social networking sites are clearly the most extensively utilized links attributed to online interaction. Recent surveys revealed web pages such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter have actively engaged over 40 percent of the mature adult population and over 70 percent of the young adult population (Hampton, Goulet, Rainie & Purcell, 2011). It is obvious that computer mediated communication (CMC) is becoming a prominent method of developing and furthering relationships with others. Social networking sites (SNS) encourage users to create a personal “profile,” allowing them to experiment with their own identities and expressiveness. Their profile page can be modified to display information and images they desire for others to see. Once a profile is created, it can be linked to the profiles of other individuals, producing a web of connections called an SNS. The tactical depiction of what information one chooses to display on his or her profile and in what way he or she chooses to present it is often a key factor in one’s decision to use an SNS; the individual can fully regulate what information he or she desires to communicate to others and what personal facts he or she wishes to disclose. Thus, researchers believe self-disclosure, or the “process of revealing personal information to other people,” is an important factor that must be taken into consideration while monitoring SNS use (Foubert, 1996). As studies describe the over 500 million active members on Facebook alone (Palmieri, Prestano, Gandley, Overton, & Zhang, 2012), one may begin to wonder how communication using these types of heavily trafficked social networks relates in comparison to conversing in face-to-face interactions. More specifically, are people able to develop intimate relationships with others online using self-disclosure in the same way they could in interpersonal encounters? Much research has been performed to investigate the influences of self-disclosure on both face-to-face communication and CMC. Findings have reported that the revelation of personal ideas and thoughts can be found in both situations, meaning that interactions using CMC are as significant as those experienced interpersonally. The amount of self-disclosure in both of these forms of communication can also be studied to indicate whether users unveil more private information online, as previous studies have claimed to be true (Joinson, 2001), or in person. This study is designed not only to measure the amount of personal information people disclose using SNS in comparison to face-to-face communication., but it will also take into account how gender role plays in the disclosure of that information. Some previous investigations have been limited to focus on either the influence of self-disclosure on various interactions or the impact gender has in the use of different types of communication. But, none have addressed the joint effect that both gender and the type of communication being experienced have on self-disclosure. This study will first analyze the findings of others scholars research which have investigated self-disclosure, gender, and communication types separately. The report will then...
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