Online Disinhibition Effect

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Increased disinhibition online is thought to be one of the side effects of computer-mediated communication — that is, communication between ourselves and a computer. Adam Joinson discusses disinhibition online in a book chapter entitled, Disinhibited Internet Behavior: Causes and Implications (2007):

“Thus, if inhibition is when behavior is contrained or restrained through self-consciousness, anxiety about social situations, worries about public evaluation , and so on, then disinhibition can be characterized by an absence or reversal of these same factors. Indeed, Prentice-Dunn and Rogers (1982) see disinhibition as a product of reduced public self-awareness, which should lead to less concern about the judgment of others. With regard to an individual’s behavior on the Internet, disinhibition could be summarized as behavior that is less inhibited than comparative behavior in real life.

Thus disinhibition on the Internet is not defined as flaming or hostile communication, but rather is seen as any behavior that is characterized by an apparent reduction in concerns for self-presentation and the judgment of others.”


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Oct 2009