Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2015
Thesis number: 14151
Why do people share online? Online disinhibition effect in the context of the virtual community of Reddit
|Title:||Why do people share online? Online disinhibition effect in the context of the virtual community of Reddit|
|Year:||2015 Language: eng|
|Department:||Department of Marketing|
|Index terms:||markkinointi; marketing; yhteisöt; communities; virtuaalitodellisuus; virtual reality; internet; internet; sosiaalinen media; social media; kuluttajakäyttäytyminen; consumer behaviour; identiteetti; identity; voimaantuminen; empowerment|
» hse_ethesis_14151.pdf size:2 MB (1774858)
|Key terms:||Online Disinhibition Effect; Netnography; Virtual Communities; Consumer Culture; Identity; Empowerment; Computers as mediators of Communication|
For the past two decades, the growth of Internet has been truly exponential. Although there is nothing deterministic about the effects of this technological revolution, it is evident that the Internet is changing our behavior in fundamental ways.
One recent expression of the Internet culture is the website reddit.com, which describes itself as "the front page of Internet". In their personal stories the users of Reddit share everything from their financial problems to their illegal venture. And to every touching story about struggling with depression there is a startlingly rude joke about the said depression.
What motivates people to share their stories in Reddit even though not necessarily a single user will remember their username? One of the biggest influencers on how we behave online is the online disinhibition effect. To unerstand the site and its communications in a fundamental way, I decided to study the online disinhibition effect in the virtual community of Reddit through netnography. For a period of one year, I participated in the community, aiming to document the experiences of others and myself on the site.
According to my research the characteristics typical to Reddit communications: anonymity, lack of cues, and text-basedness affect change the way we communicate on the site, compared to how we communicate face-to-face. When communicating on the site, redditors are able to dissociate themselves from their daily life and identity and assume instead communications' culture, values and morals associated with the virtual community of Reddit. Thus, online disinhibition effect in Reddit means not abandoning all norms but conforming to new ones.
All of this is meaningful for the community members because disinhibited behavior gives redditors feelings of empowerment or perceived capabilities in coping with various challenges and overcoming obstacles. Online disinhibition can create empowering experiences through venting, finding similar others, and heightened feelings of self-efficacy as well as receiving emotional support. Thus, people behave disinhibitedly online to feel more powerful and capable.
My research contributes to the field of consumer research, although I borrow concepts and ideas vastly from the fields of social psychology and communications studies. Through understanding the phenomena of online disinhibition better, I hope to contribute to the discourse on virtual communities and brand communities
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