Anonymity and online self-disclosure: A meta-analysis

Cathlin V. Clark-Gordon, Nicholas Bowman, Alan K. Goodboy, Alyssa Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When an individual is anonymous online, they may communicate more boldly than they would in a face-to-face situation—a phenomenon called the online disinhibition effect. While much is known about the toxic effects of online disinhibition, social effects (such as self-disclosure) receive less scholarly attention. This meta-analysis (k = 14, random effects assumed) examined the relationship between anonymity and online self-disclosure as a form of benign disinhibition. Results indicated anonymity had a positive average correlation with self-disclosure (r = .184). However, there was substantial heterogeneity across studies that could not be explained by moderators including type of anonymity (visual or discursive), the measure of self-disclosure (self-report or content analysis), or the type of interaction task (social, task, none present).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-111
JournalCommunication Reports
StatePublished - May 2019


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