Psypective: Disinhibition Effect

In creating this online disinhibition effect, this paper examines six variables that communicate with each other: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and authority minimization.

The Online Disinhibition Effect

The phenomenon that a word has arisen for it is so pervasive: the online disinhibition impact. What is perceived to be asocial activity in one community can be very suggestive in another in the very broad spectrum of online subcultures. The person may escape liability for such acts in the case of articulated hostilities or other deviant actions, almost as if superego constraints and moral cognitive processes have been momentarily suspended from the online psyche. People may feel that the mind of an online partner has fused with their mind.

The online counterpart then becomes a character within the intrapsychic universe of one, a character formed in part by how the individual actually expresses him or herself through text communication, but also by the internal representational structure of one based on personal perceptions, desires , and needs.

Transference reactions promote the forming of this assumed introjected character when there are parallels in one's life between the online companion and significant others, and when photographs of past relationships, or from novels and film, fill in ambiguities in the personality of the online companion. Online text communication may grow into an introjected psychological tapestry in which the mind of a person weaves, usually unconsciously and with great disinhibition, these fantasy roleplays.


Designers get a very different force that magnifies disinhibition if we combine the ability to conveniently escape or dissociate from what happens online with the psychological mechanism of creating imaginary characters.

Emily Finch, an author and criminal lawyer who studies cyberspace identity fraud, has indicated that certain individuals see their online life as a kind of game with rules and guidelines that do not apply to daily life. In fantasy virtual realities in which a user deliberately constructs an imaginary character, the impact of this dissociative imagination clearly surfaces, but it can also affect several aspects of online living. The distinction between online fantasy environments and online social environments can be blurred for individuals with a predisposed difficulty differentiating personal fantasy from social reality.

Although online, the status of an individual may not be known to anyone in the face-to - face world and may not have as much effect. Even if people know anything about the offline status and power of an authority figure, the elevated role may have less impact on the online presence and control of the individual.


The effect of online disinhibition is not the only factor that dictates how many individuals in cyberspace self-disclose or act out. Individuals with histrionic forms appear to be very accessible and emotional, whereas compulsive individuals are more restrained.

The online disinhibition effect can interfere with these personality variables, resulting in a slight deviation from the baseline behavior of the individual in some situations, while causing drastic changes in other instances. Future studies may concentrate on which individuals are more predisposed to the different elements of online disinhibition under what circumstances. A man with repressed rage unleashes his online aggression, thereby telling everyone how he really feels.

If someone contains his face-to-face aggression but communicates that online aggression, both actions represent facets of himself: the self that acts under some circumstances non-aggressively, the self that acts under other circumstances aggressively.

The effect of disinhibition can then be understood as the individual moving to an intrapsychic constellation when online, which may be dissociated from the in-person constellation in varying degrees, with inhibiting shame, anxiety, and related effects as characteristics of the in-person self but not as part of the online self.

This model of constellations, consistent with current clinical theories of dissociation and processing of information, helps explain the effect of disinhibition as well as other online phenomena, such as identity experimentation, role-playing, multitasking, and other more subtle changes in personality expression as someone transitions from one online environment to another.

Various expressions of self can be enabled by various modalities of online communication and various environments. A systematic theory on cyberspace psychotherapy may explore how computer-mediated environments can be structured to express, establish and, if necessary, limit various constellations of self-structure, based on a multidimensional study of the different psychological characteristics of online settings.