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Shyness and computer-mediated communication: a self-presentational theory perspective

Durkin, Kevin and Stritzke, W. and Nguyen, A. (2004) Shyness and computer-mediated communication: a self-presentational theory perspective. Media Psychology, 6 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 1521-3269

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This study compared shy and non-shy Internet users in online and offline contexts on the Revised Cheek and Buss Shyness Scale (RCBSS; Cheek, 1983) and other measures intended to gauge 4 underlying aspects of shyness: rejection sensitivity, initiating relationships, self-disclosure, and providing emotional support and advice. University students (N = 134; 76% female) participated in a Web-based survey that investigated the impact of computer-mediated communications (CMC) on shyness level. Results show that individuals classified as shy or nonshy on the basis of their scores on the RCBSS in the offline context were also significantly different on offline measures of rejection sensitivity, initiating relationships, and self-disclosure. However, they were not significantly different on these same 3 domains in the online context. The results are interpreted as support for a self-presentation theory account that the absence of visual and auditory cues online reduces shy individuals' experience of detecting negative or inhibitory feedback cues from others. We discuss positive and negative aspects of use of CMC by shy individuals.