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Self-Disclosure and Gender Running Head: SELF-DISCLOSURE AND GENDER

Self-Disclosure and Gender Differences in Computer Mediated Communication Beth Meadows Nicole Johnson Baldwin-Wallace College

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Abstract This study seeks to find whether or not a significant difference in self-disclosure is present in different contexts. Gender differences will also be examined. A survey will be distributed to about 200 participants using a 7-point Likert scale. Wheeless and Grotz’s Revised Self-Disclosure Scale (1976) will be used to measure these variables (Rubin et al., 1994). The following literature review looks at the variables of self-disclosure, gender, and motives.


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Self-disclosure and Gender Differences in Computer Mediated Communication More than 800 million active members use the popular social networking site, Facebook (www.facebook.com). Social networking sites (SNS) encourage users to create their own identity that can be globally accessed (Papacharissi, 2002). How and why do people decide which information to disclose with other individuals? Urista (2009) stated that people use social networking sites to fulfill their needs and wants. In a similar study, Christofides (2009) found that SNS users with a high need for popularity disclosed information online. Whatever the motive, computer mediated communication (CMC) is a growing research topic among communication scholars. Why do people use CMC? Urista, Dong, and Day (2009), conducted research to see why young people use social networking sites (SNS) to communicate. Sites like MySpace and Facebook allow people to “play an active role in the socialization process and in constructing their own identity� (Urista et al., 2009, p. 217). The researchers wanted to expand this idea and find out how members of these SNS use them to satisfy their own wants and needs (Urista et al., 2009). A qualitative approach using focus groups was chosen to explore the information (Urista et al, 2009). Fifty undergraduate students participated by splitting up into six different focus groups. Participants had to meet two requirements in order to take part in the study; a current member of either MySpace or Facebook and also willing to share their experience with these sites to other students. Once in the focus groups, students were asked to explain how and why they used these SNS. Afterwards, the researcher transcribed the audio tapes of the sessions and looked for main themes and concepts brought up (Urista et al., 2009).


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The results showed that there were five reasons that the participants engaged with these SNS to fulfill their needs and wants (Urista et al., 2009). They are as follows; efficient communication, convenient communication, curiosity about others, popularity, and relationship formation and reinforcement. This need for an immediate connection as well as support from others on the site drove the students to use these sites. It was also noted that the openness of users on SNS allowed others to gather information about them quickly. In a similar study by Christofides, Muise, and Desmarais (2009) they explained how people use the popular social networking site, Facebook. This included what type of information people were likely to disclose, how users controlled access to this information, and how personality factors such as self-esteem and the need for popularity played into disclosure. There were two main goals of this research. The first was to examine whether information control and disclosure on Facebook correlated. If so, the second goal was to find out whether the personality factors that predicted increased disclosure also predicted more lax information control (Christofides et al., 2009). Researchers collected the data using an online survey (Christofides et al., 2009). Subjects had to be current Facebook users and also undergraduate students under the age of 24. They were asked a series of questions about their demographics, information they were likely to disclose on Facebook, types of pictures they would likely post, and the usage of the privacy settings. Participants also answered questions about self-esteem, trust, the likelihood of disclosing information on Facebook, and their need for popularity (Christofides et al., 2009). The results of Christofides’(2009) study showed that the participants were more willing to disclose personal information on Facebook than in general. Disclosure on the social network was also positively correlated to the need for popularity. The greater the need, the more


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information the user was likely to disclose. Out of all of the participants, 97% belonged to Facebook and most posted information such as their birthday, email address, and school. The percentage decreased significantly when asked if they would also reveal their phone number and home address. Most users also posted a profile picture and pictures of themselves with friends (Christofides et al., 2009). The researchers then asked participants if they were likely to use privacy settings (Christofides et al, 2009). Results showed that self-esteem, not the need for popularity, correlated to the control of information. Participants with higher self-esteem said they would be more likely to use the privacy settings on Facebook. This related to the idea of identity creation and that people with more self-esteem need less input from others (Christofides et al., 2009). This study looked at information disclosure and privacy control as two independent factors (Christofides et al., 2009). The authors realized that disclosure and the need for popularity are positively correlated as are information control and self-esteem. However, they were influenced by different aspects of a person’s personality. This is an important distinction because it shows that different mindsets can affect the way people use Facebook (Christofides et al, 2009). Similar to Chrisofides et al.’s (2009) research, Sheldon (2009) looked at why different genders use Facebook. She wanted to figure out the motivational differences in males and female use of the website (Sheldon, 2009). Sheldon (2009) noted that Facebook has been updating new features to meet the needs of its users. The site has increased its chat features, incorporated blogging called “notes” and limited the amount of information that is viewable to the public (Sheldon 2009). Since these


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features have increased the online experience for Facebook users, Sheldon (2009) came up with a research question that asked what motivated males and females to use Facebook. A pool of usage motives was taken from previous Internet gratification studies (Sheldon 2009). Sheldon (2009) choose to conduct focus groups to compliment the results of a survey. The answers were coded as open ended questions and then put into appropriate response categories that included: relational maintenance, passing time, entertainment, and virtual community (Sheldon, 2009). The results indicated that men and women differed in the motives used on Facebook. Women used the website to maintain established relationships, while males tried to start new ones. Women were also more likely to go online to pass the time or avoid boredom. Males were more likely to go online for tasks such as chatting with a buddy or looking up a specific topic of interest (Sheldon 2009). Differences between CMC and FtF People’s motives for usage of social networking websites have researchers questioning whether computer mediated communication (CMC) can lead to the same intimacy level as faceto- face (FtF) interaction. In a study done by Jiang, Bazarova, and Hancock (2010), the process through which people self-disclosed information in CMC and FtF interactions was researched. According to the authors (Jiang et al., 2010), self-disclosure was defined as “the act of reveling personal information to other people” (p. 58). The purpose of the study was to “compare the effect of self-disclosure on relationship intimacy” (Jiang et al., 2010 p. 64). Researchers predicted that high self-disclosure leads to more intimacy in CMC than in FtF interactions (Jiang et al., 2010). The Social Penetration Theory and the hyperpersonal model were reviewed to support the hypotheses. The Social Penetration Theory explains that intimacy and self-disclosure are essential in relational development (Jiang et al., 2010). Self-disclosure is


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the first step to feeling intimate with another person. When a person shares information about him or herself, it increases the relationship and invites reciprocation, which creates intimacy (Jiang et al., 2010). The hyperpersonal model states that CMC relationships are usually more intimate than FtF relationships because of the lack of nonverbal communication and visual anonymity in online exchanges. For example, people are able to put visually attractive pictures of themselves on websites; however, it is not possible to photoshop yourself in FtF interactions. Also, a person receiving an online message has “limited access to contraindicating cues” (Jiang et al., 2010, p. 60) and tends to form more intense or extreme impressions than in FtF. The hyperpersonal model also states that people tend to over interpret online messaging to overcompensate the lack of nonverbal and visual cues. In FtF interactions, people are able to form impressions based on the cues from the receiver of the message (Jiang et al., 2010). Jiang et al. (2010) examined intimacy in both FtF and CMC interactions by an experiment that manipulated disclosure in both settings. After the study was completed, the participant took a survey that measured his/her attributions and intimacy and was presented on a 7-point Likert scale. (Jiang et al., 2010). Jiang et al.’s (2010) study was the first to examine the Social Penetration theory’s intimacy-disclosure link in CMC. Because the disclosure was held constant across both FtF and CMC channels, the researchers observed that higher intimacy was found in CMC interaction. The hypothesis was supported and high disclosure over all led to a higher level of intimacy. Joinson (2001) also wanted to compare the amount of self-disclosure during CMC and face-to-face discussions. He paired participants with someone else of the same gender and gave them a written dilemma to figure out between the two of them. They were told that they had to


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reach a joint decision by the end of the session. Some of the pairs were placed in the same room to communicate FtF while the others were stationed at computers in separate labs and instructed to use an online chat program to interact. Two trained raters evaluated the transcripts of both the FtF and CMC interacts. They ranked the level of self-disclosure that related to personal information, not the discussion of the dilemma. Results showed that pairs engaged in CMC disclosed more information than those in a face-to-face communication environment (Joinson, 2001). Joinson (2001) explained that anonymity plays a crucial role in self-disclosure in CMC. When people remain anonymous, they are more likely to reveal information that they may have not if they were in another channel of communication (Joinson, 2001). Anonymity is a strategy used to conceal certain parts of one’s identity in an online setting. When people meet in FtF encounters, they use different strategies to become familiar with the other person and reduce any uncertainties. The Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) “is among the most heuristic approaches to impression formation and initial relational development in FtF settings� (Tidwell & Walther, 2002, p. 321). In reducing uncertainty, people are able to form impressions about the other user by three different strategies: passive, active, and interactive. Passive strategies include observation, active strategies include talking to another person to reduce uncertainty, and interactive strategies include direct questions and selfdisclosure. Tidwell et al. stated that URT is examined throughout many studies with FtF interactions, but few CMC interactions Similar to Jiang et al. (2010) and Joinson (2001), Tidwell et al. (2002) also examined self-disclosure in FtF and CMC interactions; however, researchers used URT to interpret results. The researches predicted that in initial interactions, CMC users would use more interactive strategies than in FtF. Since interactive strategies are the most effective at gaining knowledge


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about another person and reducing uncertainty, CMC users will have a better understanding about an individual faster than that of FtF interaction. Tidwell et al. (2002) also predicted that CMC users would engage in deeper self-disclose than FtF. This is because in FtF interactions, most initial encounters begin with passive and active strategies to reduce uncertainty in an individual. Tidwell et al. (2002) predicted that CMC users would surpass these strategies and gain a better understanding and therefore, disclose more information to others. Tidwell et al. (2002) used and experiment that included male and female participants. The participants were assigned to sign up with another participant of the opposite sex whom they did not previously know. They reported to different labs around campus to remain anonymous. Half of the participants met in a small room for FtF discussion, and the other half went to separate rooms to communicate through a semi-synchronous CMC system. Different time periods were allotted for both sets of participants as each were assigned to either get to know each other in FtF or solve a problem in CMC. Following the interactions, participants were asked to complete a number of questions relating to their impressions of their partners and their own behaviors. Participants were asked to identify conversation topics that reduced the uncertainty in the conversation. All utterances of both interactions were coded to access the disclosure in each. Tidwell et al. (2002) found that CMC users asked more direct and interactive strategies of uncertainty reduction than in FtF and exchange of information was more intimate and effective in reducing uncertainty. CMC users exhibit more disclosure than FtF users and were more comfortable asking direct questions without feeling hesitant as opposed to how they would feel if they were facing that same person. This can be compared to Joinson’s (2001) concept of remaining anonymous. The questions asked in CMC compensated for the lack of nonverbal cues that would be present in FtF interactions (Tidwell et al., 2002).


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URT is also used in Mesch and Beker’s (2010) research that studied multiple theoretical views that contributed to relationship between norms about online disclosure and actual disclosure. One of the theoretical views that they studied was the social identity deindividuation effects (SIDE) model. This model states that the lack of communication cues in face–to-face (FtF) interactions and the absence of personal knowledge will allow communicators to make stereotypical impressions and rely on increased self disclosure. Since the communicator does not know much about the other person, he or she will reduce uncertainty by disclosing more information. In FtF interactions, visual observations can be used to reduce uncertainty. In CMC, disclosure is used to reduce uncertainty when communicating to one another (Mesch et al., 2010). Research by Antheunis, Schouten, Valkenburg, and Peter (2009) also tried to assess the role of uncertainty and how it related to CMC stimulated relational development. Specifically, this experiment looked at why reduced nonverbal cues in CMC led to enhanced liking or attraction. There were four variables that had an effect on the relationship between CMC and liking. These variables included the amount of self-disclosure, depth of self-disclosure, direct questioning, and reciprocity of self-disclosure (Antheunis et al., 2009). However, the three variables dealing with self-disclosure have the most relevance to the current research. The first variable, amount of self-disclosure, dealt with Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) and how it allows the information seeker to collect data (Antheunis et al., 2009). People seek information that can predict how someone else will think and behave. If CMC encourages self-disclosure, then information seekers have a better understanding of that person and are attracted to them. CMC reduces the uncertainty in relationship forming and allows participants to make sense of each other (Antheunis et al., 2009).


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The second variable, depth of self-disclosure, looked at how decreased nonverbal cues helped to increase the variety of disclosure (Antheunis, et al., 2009). Since CMC partners cannot see one another, they tend to feel less inhibited, therefore disclosing inner feelings earlier in the relationship forming stages than with face to face communication. This in depth disclosure then leads to greater intimacy between communication partners which in turn, increase likability (Antheunis et al., 2009). The third variable, reciprocity of self-disclosure, dealt with the process in which people disclosure information on similar levels of intimacy (Antheunis et al., 2009). When one person revealed an inner thought or feeling, the other person was then inclined to do the same, therefore reciprocating the action. Once this process of reciprocity occurs, it was then more likely to happen in the future which in turn, increase attraction interpersonally (Antheunis, et al., 2009). Participants were asked to sign up for a one hour time slot, in which only one male and one female who did not previously know each other could attend (Antheunis, et al., 2009). The pair, or dyad, were assigned randomly to one of three experimental conditions. The three circumstances were face to face, visual CMC (with webcam), or text-only CMC. In the face to face communication condition, participants had 12 minutes to get to know each other. CMC is generally a slower paced interaction so both of those conditions had 24 minutes of time. Both of the CMC communication conditions and the face-to-face were recorded (Antheunis et al., 2009). The main result of this study was that the addition of the visual component to CMC (webcam) did not impact the level of liking (Antheunis et al., 2009). This means that the attractiveness of a conversational partner was not dependent on the visual aspect of the interaction. Another finding was that CMC did not have an effect on the amount of selfdisclosure within an interaction, but it did have an effect on the depth of the information. More


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intimate self-disclosure enhanced the likeability of each other. The third result of the study dealt with the self-disclosure reciprocity that occurred within the CMC. The three experimental conditions showed that there was no correlation between reciprocity and the level of liking (Antheunis et al., 2009). The same concept of self-disclosure through online media relates to another study by Taddei, Contena, and Grana (2010). In this study, the researchers looked at three different questions. However, one of their research objectives that most closely relates to the current research is the difference of likeability and self- disclosure in face-to-face communication and online communication. Taddei et al (2010) split the experiment into four different conditions. Each condition had two segments, both lasting 20 minutes with 20 participants each with an equal number of males and females. The different conditions were as follows: face-to-face communication for both segments; CMC for both segments; CMC for the first meeting and face-to-face for the second; face-to-face communication for the first meeting and CMC for the second. Each female in the group was paired up with a male that she did not know. Face-to-face communication occurred in a laboratory while the CMC or instant messenger chat was conducted through computers in different labs. After each segment of the interaction, the subjects completed a questionnaire about the likeability of the partner. The other questionnaire used a scale to measure the amount of self-disclosure in the interaction (Taddei, et al., 2010). Face-to-face communication and CMC influenced likeability and self-disclosure (Taddei et al., 2010). Based on the results of the study, subjects who interacted first using CMC and then face to face communication disclosed more information and also rated each other as more likeable. “It is possible to confirm that CMC forms as a highly useful tool in developing social


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relations” (Taddei et al., 2010, p. 20). Computer mediated communication can serve as a way of warming up people for future interactions (Taddei et al., 2010). Gender Differences in CMC Walther (2007) also examined computer mediated communication. He conducted a study to understand the degree to which people monitor their own self-presentations using computer mediated communication (CMC). Self-presentation is how people view how they are perceived by others, which in turn may affect their behavior. Walther’s (2007) research showed that participants monitored their behavior while in the chat session using CMC. CMC users spent time modifying messages before sending them, especially when the other person was of a different gender or status. The “mindfulness” of editing the messages resulted in greater immediacy between the partners (Walther, 2007). primary behavior is the use of language. Walther (2007) found that males seemed to work harder on messages that were being sent to the opposite sex and to high school students. Females spent more time composing and editing messages being sent to female professors and spent the least time on messages sent to female high school students. The amount of times spent on the messages and the amount of editing that occurred related to intimacy/affection. Walther (2007) also found that the results were comparable to the communication accommodation theory when participants used more complex language when talking to a college professor. The communication accommodation theory states that people with a lower status will try to accommodate and match the communication styles of a person of a higher status. This also explains why males did the least editing to high school males. In terms of the hyperpersonal model, there were observed


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differences in the crafting of messages that indicated different motivations and selective selfpresentation throughout various mechanisms (Walther, 2007). Privacy can alter a person’s self presentation and has become more of a concern since SNS make it possible to reveal a multitude of information and amount of use in SNS has increased “exponentially within the last few years” (Arsoy, Taraszow, Aristodemou, Shitta, & Laouris 2010, p. 83). Arsoy et al. (2010) explained that SNS typically included posts to other users profiles that can be seen by the user’s friends. The only kind of private message included in Facebook is through a private inbox message, similar to email. Although many posts are visible to the public, these sites have different approaches concerning privacy of individual users. For example, Facebook has a feature that blocks users from searching for information without consent of the individual first. The site also allows specific parts of the page to be private and only seen by the individual user (Arosy et al., 2010). A study done by Tufekci (2008) examined the relationship between self disclosure and privacy of a page from unwanted audiences. He found that people who are highly concerned with privacy do not generally have a Facebook site. When people who have privacy concerns do use Facebook, they tend to conceal their names and use nicknames instead. The study also found that people were concerned about certain audiences that could potentially view their Facebook sites (Tufekci, 2008). Arsoy et al. (2010) also considered gender differences in the research. Arsoy et al. (2010) wanted to examine how young males and females dealt with privacy issues concerning the Facebook website. The following aspects were focused on: the percentage of people that have a public profile compared to those who have a private profile, the type of information that was disclosed to others such as profile name and birth date, and the type of contact information that was on the site such as e-mail and telephone numbers (Arsoy et al., 2010).


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The study included the observation of 131 young people’s profiles online (Arsoy et al., 2010). A guide sheet was prepared to include the necessary information. Age and gender were recorded as well as type of profile, profile name, profile picture, and birth date. Also, the user was asked if he/she used a real or fake name in the profile. The contact information that was recorded included –mail addresses, IM screen names, mobile phone numbers, other phone number, home address, hometown, and website. Random samples of profiles were selected in the chosen location, and then their friends that were in the same age range were randomly selected as well. Arsoy et al. (2010) studied the profiles and marked down the information that they could view. Before analyzing the results based on gender, Arsoy et al. (2010) stated the significant amount of profiles that were only viewable to friends of that particular user. Only 22% of all profiles examined were accessible to the public. Almost all of the subjects posted a picture of themselves that could clearly identify gender and age range. A minority of the sample did not provide any pictures nor had a group picture or cartoon picture that could not identify what age or gender the individual was. The contact information was also analyzed with the public profiles that were examined. There were 64% of people who included their email address, 10% of people who included an IM screen name, and 10% who included any sort of phone number. Half of the sample included hometown on the profile with only 5% of subjects revealing websites (Arsoy et al., 2010). Gender differences were not found with respect to having a private or a public profile. Males were more likely to include email addresses and hometown in their profiles than women, but only by a small percentage. Males were significantly more likely to include mobile phone numbers, IM screen names, home addresses, and websites (Arsoy et al., 2010). The finding of


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male interactions compared to those of a female can be explained by gender socialization and the way that each gender self discloses (Arsoy et al., 2010) In Bond’s (2009) research gender differences and self-disclosure were studied in SNS. Gender played a large role in what people were willing to disclose about themselves and how they share information. Self-disclosure was discussed throughout Bond’s (2009) article as personal information that people reveal about themselves to another. The amount of information people disclose can sometimes be determined by their gender (Bond, 2009). Gender differences were defined in this article as “men and women socialized differently and, in turn, disclose information in interpersonal settings at a varying degree” (Bond, 2009, p. 30). There have been many studies done on interpersonal communication that shows females disclosing more information than males. Females are socialized to be open and empathetic. Males are socialized to be more closed and less emotional than females. This is all relevant in interpersonal communication; however, they had been few studies to show gender differences in CMC (Bond, 2009). Bond (2009) also wanted to know if sexual expressiveness in CMC differed between genders. Since females are depicted in the media as over-sexualized, one would assume they would disclose more sexual information about themselves. Alternatively, males may disclose more sexual expressiveness because of their likely use of pornographic materials on the internet (Bond, 2009). Males also have a greater need to seek out sexual partners, which may drive them to disclose more information (Bond, 2009). Bond (2009) came up with one hypothesis and two research questions on the relationship between gender roles and self-disclosure. The hypothesis stated “female participants will disclose more images and information on social network profiles than male participants will


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disclose on social network profiles� (Bond, 2009, p. 31) which is similar to the findings of Arsoy et al. (2010). The research questions included examining whether or not differences existed in the images and type of information that shown on social network profiles, as well as whether or not differences existed in terms of sexual expressiveness (Bond, 2009). Bond (2009) used 137 young adults for his research. The method consisted of a survey where participants were asked if they had a Friendster, Myspace, or Facebook profile and how many hours a week were spent on each. The survey was measure on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from one being not at all representative and five being entirely representative on how true they felt their profile was to their personality (Bond, 2009). Bond (2009) first asked the participants about the type of images and information they disclosed about themselves on these sites. This was also measured with a 5-point Likert scale with one being very unlikely and five being very likely. The author gather the information divided them into categories to compare the gender differences of each. Some of the categories included family, friends, significant others, holidays, school, alcohol, religion, politics, sports, and music/entertainment. The same was done to measure sexual expressiveness. Participants were asked how much they disclosed sexual behaviors, intimate relation, and sexual attire on their profile pages (Bond, 2009). Bond’s (2009) research revealed support for his hypothesis. Females were more likely to disclose information on their online profiles than males. Categories with the most differences included friends, family, significant others, holidays, and alcohol. Males disclosed more information only about sports. Religion and music/entertainment were not significantly different between genders. Females also were significantly higher in sexual expression than males (Bond 2009).


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Finally, Pennington (2008) also examined how and why people disclose information on the popular social networking site, Facebook. The goal was to figure out the relationship between the social penetration theory and the amount of information publicly disclosed online. To assess these variables, the researcher used a qualitative approach to understand the participants. Sixteen subjects, ages 18 to 25, were individually interviewed in depth based on the findings of the network analysis. The questions asked participants how they used Facebook, their personal views on the website, and how they would react to hypothetical situations created on Facebook. Questions were asked in the same sequence and some questions required clarification as needed (Pennington, 2008). In addition, Pennington (2008) conducted a content analysis of a network containing 100 college members. Fifty male and 50 female profiles were searched for data relating to relationship status, status, and notes. Relational status was categorized based on the settings on Facebook such as “in a relationship” or “single.” Status updates were broken down into two types, abstract and actual. Abstract was something that was an obscure statement such as an inside joke or song lyrics. Actual was a statement that revealed what the user was doing, such as running errands. Notes were also divided into two parts, practical and personal. Practical was used for links or reminders while personal were someone’s thoughts or ideas (Pennington, 2008). The interviews were then transcribed (Pennington, 2008). The data from the interviews were analyzed and categorized based on the how the data related back to the research questions and to the content analysis. The relevant research question to current research was “Are our concepts of personal information changing as we increase our CMC?” (Pennington, 2008, p. 11) Facebook users have the opportunity to display all sorts of personal information and one of the most common is their relationship status. Research showed 85% of users listed their relationship


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status (Pennington, 2008). What used to be considered close personal information is now readily available to anyone that stumbles across their profile (Pennington, 2008).


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Rationale The previous articles reviewed literature regarding why people use SNS, the difference between CMC and f2F and gender differences in each setting. It is important to continue researching these topics in order to understand the impact of CMC and social networking in today’s society. Past research has supported that people use SNS to fulfill personal needs (Urista, 2009; Christofides, 2009; Sheldon, 2009). Researchers have compared CMC and FtF in regards to the social penetration theory and found that people disclose more online (Jiang, 2010; Joinson, 2001; Tidwell, 2002; Antheunis, 2009; Taddei, 2010). Therefore the following hypothesis is proposed: H1: A difference will exist in self-disclosure between CMC and FtF. Researchers also found a difference between the way males and females disclose information in an online setting (Arsoy et al., 2010; Bond 2009). This is because males are socialized to act differently than females in regards to disclosing information about themselves. Therefore the following hypothesis is proposed: H2: Females will disclose information that males in CMC. Only a few studies have been conducted with Facebook because it has become popular in recent years. There have yet to be any studies looking at CMC on Twitter. According to Papacharissi (2002), CMC allows users to create “a more multimediated self, using audiovisual components, together with text, to communicate to potential audiences (p. 643). ). Presentation of self online has scholars questioning how people are manipulating and reinventing aspects of their identity in CMC (Papacharissi, 2002).


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Methods Participants The sample was drawn from students at a small liberal arts college in Northeast Ohio. Students completed a survey dealing with one specific context of communication; either Twitter, Facebook, or f2f communication. Two hundred students participated in this study (52% Facebook, 27% Twitter, 21% f2f). Respondents ages in range from 18 to 44 (M=21.2, SD=4.1). Thirty-eight participants were first year students, 33 were sophomores, 40 were juniors, 55 were seniors, 29 were seniors plus, and 5 did not report their class rank. Sixty-three percent of participants were female, while 37% were male. Procedures After obtaining approval from the Human Subjects Review Board, the researchers contacted several undergraduate professors to distribute the f2f communication paper survey to their classes. The researchers also prepared two online surveys, one for Facebook, and one for Twitter. Students across campus were encouraged to follow links posted on each of these social media sites which in turn led them into one of the two survey sites. The informed consent document was the first page of each of the three surveys. The cover letter informed participants of the purpose of the study, the voluntary nature of the study, the anonymity of responses, and contact information for the researchers. The survey used the Revised Self-Disclosure Scale by Wheeless and Grotz (1976). Twenty-four questions tested four different dimensions of selfdisclosure. These dimensions include intended disclosure, amount of self-disclosure, control of depth, and honesty-accuracy. The first dimension of the Revised Self-Disclosure Scale (Wheeless et al., 1976) testing intended disclosure asked questions such as “When I reveal my feelings about myself, I


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consciously intend to do so”. Using a 7-point likert scale, participants responded from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Previous research indicated a Cronbach coefficient alpha of .85. In this study, the Cronbach coefficient alpha was .82 (M=21.90, SD=4.1). The second dimension testing amount of self-disclosure received a coefficient alpha of .88 from previous research. This dimension included questions such as “I often discuss my feelings about myself.” The Cronbach coefficient alpha score is .75(M=25.16, SD=6.85). The third dimension measuring control of depth was previously given an alpha coefficient of .84. Through our data collection, the Cronbach coefficient is calculated at .79(M=16.85, SD=5.64). Control of depth asked questions like “Once I get started, my self-disclosures last a long time”. The final dimension, honesty-accuracy, examined how true the self-disclosures are to oneself. “I always feel completely sincere when I reveal my own feelings and experiences” is an example of the type of question asked in this section. Previous research found a coefficient alpha score of .87, while this study showed a coefficient reliability of .84(M=41, SD=7.82). All four dimensions’ Cronbach alpha coefficient were greater than .7 which indicates that this survey is reasonably reliable.


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Results Hypothesis one proposed that there would be a difference in self-disclosure between the communication contexts of Facebook, Twitter, and f2f. To test hypothesis one, an ANOVA was run. Results indicated that there were no significant differences in the dimensions of intended disclosure (F [2, 194] = .75, p > .05), amount of disclosure (F [2,191] = .28, p > .05), control of depth (F [2,193] = .17, p > .05) and honesty/accuracy (F [2,186] = .15, p > .05). Hypothesis two suggested that women would disclosure more information in CMC. To test hypothesis two, a T-TEST was run. Hypothesis was not supported ( t (192)= -1.4, p> .05). To help explore the data in more detail, follow up tests were run. Ages were categorized into two groups (18-20) and (21 and over). A T-Test was run with age and each dimension of self-disclosure. Results indicated that there was no significance in intended disclosure (t [195]=-1.9, p > .05), amount (t [192] = -1.1, p > .05), and control of depth (t [194]=.4, p >.05). A significant difference was found in the honesty/accuracy dimension (t [187=-2.2, p <.05).


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Discussion The primary purpose of this study was to investigate how people disclose information in different contexts. The three contexts under examination were f2f, Facebook, and Twitter. This research is important as todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s society becomes more and more centered on online communication. We had two main hypotheses for this study. We predicted that participants would disclose more information in CMC than f2f. Additionally, we examined gender differences and predicted that women would disclose more in CMC. To test hypothesis one, an ANOVA was run to determine the difference between the dimensions of intended disclosure, amount of disclosure, control of depth, and honesty/accuracy. Results indicated that there were no significant differences in any of the four dimensions: intended disclosure (F [2, 194] = .75, p > .05), amount of disclosure (F [2,191] = .28, p > .05), control of depth (F [2,193] = .17, p > .05) and honesty/accuracy (F [2,186] = .15, p > .05). Our hypothesis was based on previous research which stated that people disclosure more information in CMC than f2f through the social penetration theory (Pennington, 2008). According to SPT, people slowly reveal more and more information to one another. Jiangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (2010) research supported the hypothesis that there is a higher level of intimacy in CMC. Based on this literature, we assumed the same for our study. Our results did not show a significant difference which may be attributed to two different reasons. One being that our limitations such as clarity of directions and sample of participants affected the results. Another explanation may be that there is no difference between contexts and the dimensions of self-disclosure. To test hypothesis two, a T-Test was run to examine how gender plays a role in amount of self-disclosure in CMC. Results indicated that there is no difference ( t (192)= -1.4, p> .05).


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Although previous research supported the hypothesis that women would disclose more information (Bond, 2009), our study did not support this. Since our initial hypotheses were not supported, additional tests were run using other demographics. A T-Test run with age and each dimension of self-disclosure produced additional results. We divided age into two approximately equal categories: 18-21 and 22 and older. The division of ages represents those in college and those transitioning into the workplace. In the dimensions of intended disclosure ((t [195] =-1.9, p > .05), amount (t [192] = -1.1, p > .05), and control of depth (t [194] =.4, p >.05), no significant difference was found. The honesty/accuracy dimension showed a significant difference between ages (t [187=-2.2, p <.05). We believe that this exists in relation to the maturity level of older participants. Limitations Our study had some limitations as well. Since the premise of the research is focused on self-disclosure, it was important that the participants understood the definition. Even though we stated this in the directions, it is very likely that the participants overlooked it. This in turn, led to confusion with the survey questions which may have affected the results. Another clarity issue dealt with the distinction between contexts on the surveys. Although the surveys stated the context at the top, we feel that participants may have answered the questions in a general way. In addition, the distribution of the sample was not evenly spread throughout the three contexts. There were also more female participants than males. Overall, more participants filled out the Facebook survey which could skew the results. Previous research examined the motives of why males and females use social networking sites (Sheldon, 2009). After finishing our study, we concluded that this information would be important to look at in future research.


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Future Directions Future studies should include more demographics such as race, ethnicity, field of study and time spent on a computer. Although amount of disclosure was a dimension that was tested, the questions did not include a specific amount of time spent on online sites. Also, future studies should try to establish equal number of participants in each context and for males and females. Conclusion The purpose of this investigation was to expand the understanding of how communication contexts influence self-disclosure. Gender orientation was also used to assess the amount of selfdisclosure throughout each context. Similar to other studies, we explored self-disclosure on Facebook but added Twitter which has not researched yet. This area of study will be continually more important as the world becomes more dependent and connected through online communication.


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References Antheunis, M., Schouten, A., Valkenburg, P., & Peter, J. (2009). Intervening processes between computer-mediated communication and interpersonal attraction: An experimental comparison. Paper presented at International Communication Association; 2009 annual meeting. Retrieved from OhioLink on November 14, 2011. Arsoy, A., Aristodemou, E., Shitta, G., Laauris, Y., & Taraszow, T. (2010). Disclosure of personal and contact information by young people in social networking sites: An analysis using Facebook profiles as an example. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 6(1), 81-102. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011. Bond, B. J. (2009). He posted, she posted: Gender differences in self-disclosure on social networking sites. Rocky Mountain Communication Review, 6(2), 29-36. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011. Christofides, E., Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2009). Information disclosure and control on facebook: Are they two sides of the same coin or two different processes? CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(3). Retrieved from OhioLink on November 14, 2011. Facebook (2011). Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics on November 14, 2011. Jiang, C. L., Bazarova, N.N., & Hancock, J. T. (2010). The disclosure-intimacy link in computermediated communication: An attributional extension of the hyperpersonal model. Human Communication Research, 58-77. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011. Joinson, A. (2001). Self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication: the role of selfawareness and visual anonymity. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31(2), 177192. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011.


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Mesch, G. S., & Beker, G. (2010). Are norms of disclosure of online and offline personal information associated with the disclosure of personal information online? Human Communication Research, 36(4), 570-592. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011. Papacharissi, Z. (2002). The self online: The utility of personal home pages. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 46(3), 346. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011. Pennington, N. (2008). Will you be my friend: Facebook as a model for the evolution of social penetration theory. Paper presented at National Communication Association conference. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011 Sheldon, P. (2009). Maintain or develop new relationship? Gender differences in facebook use. Rocky Mountain Communication Review, 6(1), 51-56. Retrieved from OhioLink on November 14, 2011. Taddei, S., Contena, B., & Grana, A. (2010). Does web communication warm-up relationships? Self-disclosure in computer mediated communication. Bollettino Di Psicologia Applicata, (260), 13-22. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on November 14, 2011. Tidwell, L., & Walther, J. (2002). Computer-mediated communication effects on disclosure, impressions, and interpersonal evaluations. Human Communication Research, 28 (3), 317-348. Retrieved from OhioLINK on November 14, 2011. Tufekci, Z. (2008). Can you see me now? Audience and disclosure regulation in online social network sites. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 28(1), 20-36. Retrieved from OhioLINK on November 14, 2011. Urista, M., Dong, Q., & Day, K. (2009). Explaining why young adults use myspace and


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facebook through uses and gratifications theory. Pacific and Asian Communication Association, 12(2), 215-229. Retrieved from OhioLink on November 14, 2011 Walther, J. (2007). Selective self-presentation in computer-mediated communication: Hyperpersonal dimensions of technology, language, and cognition. Computers in Human Behavior, 23, 2538-2557. Retrieved from OhioLink on November 14, 2011.


Self-Disclosure and Gender Appendix A Demographics 1. Are you a: Male OR Female? 2. What is your age? _______ 3. What year in school are you? Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior

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Appendix B Revised Self-Disclosure Scale Instructions: Please mark the following statements to reflect how you communicate with others in person. Indicate the degree to which the following statements reflect how you communicate with this person by marking whether you (7) Strongly Agree, (6) Agree, (5) Moderately Agree, (4) Are Undecided, (3) Moderately Disagree, (2) Disagree, or (1) Strongly Disagree. Record the number of your response in the space provided. Work quickly and just record your first impressions. Intended Disclosure 1. 2. 3. 4.

When I wish, my self-disclosures are always accurate reflections of who I really am. When I express my personal feelings, I am always aware of what I am doing and saying. When I reveal my feelings about myself, I consciously intend to do so. When I am self-disclosing, I am consciously aware of what I am revealing.

Amount 5. I do not often talk about myself. 6. My statements of my feelings are usually brief. 7. I usually talk about myself for fairly long periods at a time. 8. My conversation lasts the least time when I am discussing myself. 9. I often talk about myself. 10. I often discuss my feelings about myself. 11. Only infrequently do I express my personal beliefs and opinions. Control of Depth 12. I intimately disclose who I really am, openly and fully in my conversation. 13. Once I get started, my self-disclosures last a long time. 14. I often disclose intimate, personal things about myself without hesitation. 15. I feel that I sometimes do not control my self-disclosure of personal or intimate things I tell about myself. 16. Once I get started, I intimately and fully reveal myself in my self-disclosures. Honesty-Accuracy 17. I cannot reveal myself when I want to because I do not know myself thoroughly enough. 18. I am often not confident that my expressions of my own feelings, emotions, and experiences are true reflections of myself. 19. I always feel completely sincere when I reveal my own feelings and experiences. 20. My self-disclosures are completely accurate reflections of who I really am.


Self-Disclosure and Gender 21. I am not always honest in my self-disclosures. 22. My statements about my feelings, emotions, and experiences are always accurate selfperceptions. 23. I am always honest in my self-disclosures. 24. I do not always feel completely sincere when I reveal my own feelings, emotions, behaviors, or experiences.

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Final Paper