Anonymity and Online Self-Disclosure: A Meta-Analysis

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


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 (US)
Pages (from-to)98-111
Number of pages14
JournalCommunication Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 4 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anonymity
  • Benign Disinhibition
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Self-Disclosure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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