Who am I? Representing the self offline and in different online contexts

Lia Emanuel, Greg Neil, Chris Bevan, Danae Stanton Fraser, Sarah Stevenage, Monica Whitty, Sue Jamison-Powell

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The present paper examines the extent to which self-presentation may be affected by the context in which is it undertaken. Individuals were asked to complete the Twenty Statements Test both privately and publicly, but were given an opportunity to withhold any of their personal information before it was made public. Four contexts were examined: an offline context (face-to-face), an un-contextualized general online context, or two specific online contexts (dating or job-seeking). The results suggested that participants were willing to disclose substantially less personal information online than offline. Moreover, disclosure decreased as the online context became more specific, and those in the job-seeking context disclosed the least amount of information. Surprisingly, individual differences in personality did not predict disclosure behavior. Instead, the results are set in the context of audience visibility and social norms, and implications for self-presentation in digital contexts are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date8 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Self-concept
  • Self-presentation
  • Offline and online disclosure
  • Social network sites


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