Gonzales, A. & Hancock, J.T. (2008). Identity Shift in Computer-Mediated Environments. Media Psychology, 11, 167-185.
The present study uses a public commitment framework to examine how computer-mediated self-presentations can alter identities. Participants were asked to present with one of two traits, extroversion or introversion, in public or private computer-mediated communication. Public presentations were online, whereas private presentations took place in a text document. Only participants that presented themselves publicly internalized the trait presentation, suggesting that identity shift took place. Public self-presentations also contained more certain and definite forms of language than private self-presentations, suggesting that audiences evoke a more committed form of self-presentation. The findings in this research have important implications for the self-construction of identity online, particularly for individuals that use the Internet as a tool for public self-presentation, such as dating sites, social network sites, or blogs. Also, the findings highlight opportunities for theoretical development on identity construction as a function of computer-mediated communication.