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Can You See the Real Me? Activation and Expression of the “True Self” on the Internet

Those who feel better able to express their “true selves” in Internet rather than face‐to‐face interaction settings are more likely to form close relationships with people met on the Internet (McKenna, Green, & Gleason, this issue). Building on these correlational findings from survey data, we conducted three laboratory experiments to directly test the hypothesized causal role of differential self‐expression in Internet relationship formation. Experiments 1 and 2, using a reaction time task, found that for university undergraduates, the true‐self concept is more accessible in memory during Internet interactions, and the actual self more accessible during face‐to‐face interactions. Experiment 3 confirmed that people randomly assigned to interact over the Internet (vs. face to face) were better able to express their true‐self qualities to their partners.

Journal of Social Issues

Wiley journal

10.1111/1540-4560.00247

2002

33-48

Blackwell Publishers Inc

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