the Internet-Enhanced Self-Disclosure Hypothesis by Valkenburg and Peter

the Internet-Enhanced Self-Disclosure Hypothesis by Valkenburg and Peter

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As defined by Baron and Branscombe (2011), self-esteem refers to an individuals overall attitude toward themselves, or sense of self worth. A major influencer of self-esteem is social connectedness, or an individual’s sense of belongingness to his or her social environments and networks (Lee & Robbins, 1998). For example, being excluded or ignored by ones peers is said to be psychologically painful, therefore causing reduction in self-esteem (Baron & Branscombe, 2011). Thus, social connectedness and self-esteem can be considered to be positively associated. With this in mind, there has been on going debate since the end of the 20th century on the role that the Internet is playing in effecting the quality of social relationships among individuals, and, in turn, influencing their levels of self-esteem and psychological well-being. This has come to be known as the Internet Paradox, and the issue continues to be relatively conflicting, with opponents of the Internet criticizing that its use contributes to a decrease in social connectivity (Nie, Hillygus, & Erbring, 2002), loneliness (Moody, 2001), and depression (Morgan & Cotton, 2003), known as the social reduction hypothesis, and proponents finding results that support the idea that Internet use and social network interaction facilitates psychological well being by enhancing social connectedness (Grieve, Indian, Witteveen, Tolan, & Marrington, 2013) and the positive outcomes associated with it, referred to as social capital.
However, as time has moved on, research seems to support the proponents of the Internet, and can be explained by two changes in Internet use that have occurred since its manifestation. First off, an increase in the amount of Internet users has allowed for indi...

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...nd/or social anxiety) are said to benefit from the use of social network sites because it provides a distinct medium for them to develop social relationships they would otherwise be reluctant to and, thus, a sense of social connectedness and support (Grieve et al., 2013; Indian & Grieve, 2014). Furthermore, the Internet-enhanced self-disclosure hypothesis by Valkenburg and Peter (2009), which was tested and supported, claims that the use of social network sites for online communication indirectly promotes psychological well-being by allowing individuals to self-disclose intimate information with existing friends that they otherwise wouldn’t do in face-to-face interaction. This increase in online self-disclosure has been found to enhance relationship quality, and these high quality relationships ultimately promote psychological well-being (Valkenburg & Peter, 2009).

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