The Cultural Self: Experiments investigating self-awareness and self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication

  • Jeannine Goh

    Student thesis: Phd


    ABSTRACTThis thesis presents a series of cross-cultural experiments, which investigate the role of self-awareness on self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication (CMC). The thesis is split into two parts, detailing the results of four separate experiments. In Part 1, the two experiments focus specifically on British participants who are considered to be from an individualistic culture. Experiment 1 investigates how private and public self-awareness affects their breadth, depth and accuracy of self-disclosure in CMC. Experiment 2 then attempts to simplify Experiment 1 to try and focus more specifically on personal motivations of self-disclosure. The results of the first two experiments clearly illustrate the importance of both private and public self-awareness in intimate self-disclosure in CMC. More specifically, they indicate that increasing private self-awareness increases depth of self-disclosure, whilst increasing public self-awareness reduces the accuracy of the self-disclosure. In Part 2 of the thesis Experiments 1 and 2 are replicated on Singaporean participants, who are considered to be from a collectivist culture. Members of collectivist cultures are consistently reported to self-disclose less than members of individualistic cultures. It is however found in Experiment 3 that in a typical 'real-time' interaction the Singaporeans report themselves to self-disclose to a greater depth than the British participants. Cultural differences are also found in the participants' reactions to certain manipulations of self-awareness. More specifically, a manipulation that increases public self-awareness greatly reduces the British participants' self-disclosure. Whilst the Singaporeans are more affected by a manipulation that increases their private self-awareness, which greatly increases their depth of self-disclosure. It is concluded that there are cultural differences in the way that people react to manipulations of self-awareness in CMC and this raises philosophical discussion about how culture drives self-disclosure which, in turn, drives the pursuit of self-knowledge, and ultimately the construction of the cultural self. Finally it is concluded that CMC may allow an exploration of the self outside of cultural norms, and that this could potentially change the boundaries of the private and public self in the future.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorMartin Lea (Supervisor)


    • the self
    • culture
    • self-disclosure
    • self-awareness
    • computer-mediated communication

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