Posts Tagged ‘The online disinhibition effect’

Why do we troll? – The toxic side of disinhibition

Back in June I did a guest post on Ravalation‘s blog discussing why we troll which I explained by reciting the result of the research done on “The Online Disinhibition Effect”. Later on I wrote an article based on the same research discussing “Why we develop feelings for people we meet in games“. To really understand why we behave the way we do in online environments I believe the disinhibition we experience to be key. Therefore I’ve decided to re-post “Why do we troll” on my own blog to give a fuller picture of what this online disinhibition is and how it works. Enjoy!

Having always taken a great interest in human behaviour and interaction I was intrigued by the world of gaming since I first came in contact with it. My fascination with online gaming and the communities that dwell there was striking from the start and it’s what I tend to write about. My thoughts tonight are revolving around a story a in game acquaintance of mine from SWTOR, let’s call him “Tristin”, told me recently. Long story short Tristin thought he had made a new friendship in game. He seemed very happy about this new friendship. Soon enough some very personal information Tristin had told this other player in confidence ended up in a forum somewhere for all the world to read. The person he had befriended wasn’t the person he had thought at all, it was someone having created a fake in game account for the sole purpose of trolling Tristin.

This made me think about the notion trolling. What is trolling? Why do we do it?

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Why we develop feelings for people we meet in games

After reading the comments to Pyxis piece “Red’s Lesson”  my head was buzzing with thoughts. Hearing these stories of people falling for someone they meet online in a game is very interesting and it’s a story I’ve heard many times before. The number of people this seems to happen to surprised me greatly when I first started playing an MMO.

Seeing the comments in Pyxis post reminded me of what I read about “The Online Disinhibition Effect” when I was guest writing for Rav about why we ‘troll’.  This study by John Suler presents six features of online society which can elicit us to act differently than in the real world.

“Everyday users on the Internet—as well as clinicians and researchers1–7—have noted how people say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn’t ordinarily say and do in the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel less restrained, and express themselves more openly. So pervasive is the phenomenon that a term has surfaced for it: the online disinhibition effect.”
The Online Disinhibition Effect, John Suler 2004

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