In the affective dimension: Exploring online self-presentation and utility of online activities

  • Chen-Wilson, J. (Author)
  • Chris Fullwood (Author)
  • Titus Asbury (Author)
  • Caroline Wesson (Author)
  • Melanie Keep (Author)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Psychosocial factors such as self-concept clarity and self-esteem are reported to differentiate the extent to which individuals consistently present themselves online and offline. A higher level of anxiety over social interaction is associated with a propensity to experiment with online self-presentation. This study explored the intersection between psychosocial factors and interactive contexts by examining the extent to which online self-presentation behaviour may vary across different online activities.

A survey design was used.

Four-hundred and four participants aged between 18 and 72 (MAge=23.29, sd=8.31; Female/Male = 338/66) ranked online activities they frequently participated in. They also completed the Presentation of Online Self Scale along with measures of self-concept clarity, self-esteem, and interaction anxiety.

Three factors were extracted from the ranked online activities using Explorative Factor Analysis. The model identified three dimensions in the participants’ online enterprise: functional (27.11%: email, messaging, news browsing, YouTube/video streaming and online banking and shopping), social (10.57%: blogging, social networking, gaming and online forums) and affective (7.62%: email, blogging, online dating, seeking support, sharing music). Only the affective dimension, alongside age and gender, significantly predicted online self-presentation behaviours.
Its predictive power became less straightforward when other psychosocial factors such as self-concept clarity and interaction anxiety were added to the regression models.

Online activities with a more affective orientation were most influential in individuals who tended to put on a more idealised self-presentation online. The discussion will explore the complex interaction between psychosocial and contextual factors in online self-presentation, with a focus on the psychological functions of diverse online engagement.
Period6 Jul 20217 Jul 2021
Event titleCyberpsychology Section Annual Conference 2021: Future Directions, Challenges and Opportunities in Cyberpsychology
Event typeConference