RHD talk: Professor Monica Whitty - Superidentity: Is identity consistent across physical and cyber spaces?

Thursday, February 18, 2016 15:30 - 17:00

Talk for RhD students

Ever since the beginnings of the Internet, how the self has been constructed and understood in cyberspace has been an area of concern. Are we different people online? Does the Internet provide us with new opportunities to gain greater insights about ourselves? Do the selves we create in cyberspace transcend to other spaces? The work presented here will outline some of the work our inter-disciplinary team carried out on a project we refer to as 'Superidentity'. The objective of the project was to work towards a rich understanding of identity which encompasses aspects that we reveal both in the real world and in the cyber world. The result of the project was a more complete and dynamic picture, enabling greater input into the identity decision. This paper focuses on the work the Leicester team carried out. It begins by presenting a brief history of theories and empirical work on the 'self' online which provides the background for the empirical studies presented in the paper.

It acknowledges the different paradigms psychologists work within to understand the 'self' and provides a critique of some of these approaches. The paper then moves onto considering a series of studies that consider the identities presented in cyberspace from two different theoretical perspectives: a self concept perspective as well as a trait theory perspective. The self concept studies consider how people describe themselves across different cyber-domains by employing the 'twenty statements test'. The trait theory studies examine the Big 5 across different online spaces and considers whether individuals are likely to present the same personality trait across different spaces. Moreover, it examines if this is modified depending on whether the individual is a high self-monitor. The paper further considers whether a discrepancy between different presentations of self is related to psychological well-being. Finally, implications of these findings are related back to the 'super identity' model.


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4th floor Linkway, John Medley (Building 191)