Effects of the Internet on Personalities
The emergence of the internet has changed the manner in which people interact with one another. It has also enabled people to have access to a lot of information and applications which are vital to conduct everyday activities. Everyday, a lot of people interact with the internet especially when they are in an online mode.Research conducted indicates that the internet affects personalities in different ways. Considering that people interact with the internet differently, it is bound to affect their personalities in different ways. This paper seeks to discuss the effects of the internet on personalities.
Effects of the Internet on Personalities
Questions have been asked as to whether an introvert people can become extroverts when they are online. There are findings which reveal this to be true. One of the possible positive effects of using the internet is online personality change.According to Turkle (1995), people who use the internet behave differently when they are online. This implies that introverts tend to change their personality and behave in a manner that portrays them as extroverts.
An individual’s personality depends on the situation and context. The different personalities associated to a particular individual in the offline and online contexts tendto deviate considerably. Based on this revelation, the internet indeed affects personalities. The resulting personality as a result of using the internet is referred to as the online personality.
People’s behavior when they are online is not influenced by the offline personality but the online personality. The different behaviors portrayed by people when they are offline and online indicate internet’s effect on personalities. People who are introverts tend to become extroverts when they are online. Looking at this statement, it would be necessary to state that when the internet is used as a medium, it influences extraversion.
Different Theories of Personality Assessment
There are a number of theories which reveal the changing nature of behavior. Two such theories are the social cognitive theory and the dynamic personality theory.
The Social Cognitive Theory
A causal relationship that is triadic between personal factors, environment and behavior is one of the propositions of the social cognitive theory (Carducci, 2009). According to the social cognitive theory, personality is conditionally expressed, multifaceted and richly contextualized in the diverse transactions of everyday life.
The social cognitive theory has put forward various arguments in relation to personality. The first argument is that personality is a system of aims, capabilities and beliefs. Such a system is considered to be highly interconnected. In addition to this, personality functions and develops as it reciprocally interacts with the environment and it has a reciprocal link with affective mechanisms which are biologically based (Carducci, 2009). People can be distinguished from each other based on their personality. The reason for this is that phenomenological experience and coherent patterns are two aspects which are used in distinguishing individuals from one another. These two aspects re a product of personality and this is the reason why people’s personalities are different.
The Dynamic Personality Theory
The dynamic personality theory has led developmental psychologists to believe that personality is maintained, constructed and enacted in the contexts of relationships which are of a social nature. A majority of qualities which are attributed to personality do not give a reflection of an individual who is in isolation but one who is in interpersonal relationships.
There are different types of personality characteristics seen in people. According to Larsen and Buss (as qtd in Gackenbach&Stackelberg, 2007, p. 61), the five primary characteristics in relation to personality areopenness to experience, stability of emotions, conscientiousness, agreeableness and extroversion or introversion. The internet affects these personalities in different ways. As a result, individuals affected are likely to exhibit changes in their personality due to internet use. Personality characteristics in relation to introversion and extroversion are the ones which have been studied extensively in terms of the effect that the internet has on them.
Extraversion as one of the personality characteristics has a number of features. One of these features is that it is characterized by preference for social stimulation and companionship. There are a number of facets which reflect levels of extraversion on the high side. These include being sociable, outgoing, adventurous, enthusiastic, energetic and forceful. Extraversion is highly associated as one of the personalities resulting from internet use.
The internet as a context of interaction provides different environments from the one people are used to everyday. It provides an environment for people of different personalities to express themselves without restricting their natural inborn personalities. Social relationships created through online communication enables people to exhibit to each other personalities which are different from the one displayed on a face to face basis (Hertlein&Blumer, 2013). The internet environment is driven by fantasy.
As a result people become less concerned about social sanctions in an online environment compared to face to face interaction. This enables people to reconstruct and construct their identity in numerous ways by using the internet. A life without the internet cannot make this any way possible especially for an average individual.
Because of the serene environment provided by the internet, people of different personalities tend to be affected by the internet in different ways. Chat rooms provide an important online environment necessary to observe how the different personalities are affected. People who are categorized as highly introverted transform and eventually become moderate extraverts. On the other hand, people who were considered moderate extraverts transform and become highly extraverted. Neurotics and introverts can be able to experience an environment where their behavior cannot be observed by anyone.
As a result, they are not restricted to behave how they would have behaved in the presence of their peers or classmates. Use of the internet has often been suggested as a strategy for individuals who are shy to improve social exchanges (Gackenbach&Stackelberg, 2007). Introverts who are characterized as shy can therefore improve the manner in which they socialize. The internet has enabled people to create a community which is virtual that differs from that which is real. Introverts maintain their personality when they are in face to face contact but as soon as they go online their extravert character comes out clearly. This is due to the online environment that makes it possible.
Some personalities can benefit more from others due to using the internet. Individuals’ social measures and trait can be used to predict how they use the internet. Research findings by Yang and Lester indicate that extroversion and neuroticism were positively and negatively associated to the use of the internet (Gackenbach&Stackelberg, 2007). The portrayal of extroverts by the research indicates differences which exist between the two in terms of their use of the internet.In nations which are industrialized, internet use across cultures was observed among extroverts and not neurotics (Gackenbach&Stackelberg, 2007).
Extroverts seem to gain a lot from using the internet compared to introverts. This is because the psychological outcomes associated to internet usage by extroverts are much better. A study by Kraut et al (as cited in Gackenbach&Stackelberg, 2007), discovered that extroverts, by being on line, experienced an increase in social contacts and contrary discovery in relation to introverts was discovered. On the other hand, internet usage by introvertspredicts outcomes which are worse.
A study conducted by Yuen and Lavingives more insights into this. Shy students had a higher likelihood of compulsively using the internet causing them to leave school after failing their classes (Gackenbach&Stackelberg, 2007). The effect of using online communication at the expense of face to face communication affected such students negatively in terms of their social skills. The social skills of shy students suffered because they chose to interact online more than using face to face (Gackenbach&Stackelberg, 2007).
Several correlations exist between using diverse services on the internet and personality traits. For men, Positive association exists between extraversion and using leisure services while use of information services was negatively related to neuroticism. For women, using of social services is linked positively and negatively with neuroticism and extroversion respectively.
In conclusion, interaction with the internet affects people’s personalities in different ways. At the instant of interaction, internet use enables introvert and extrovert people to become more extroverted, while the resulting effect of online interaction through the internet negatively affects introverts and benefits extroverts in relation to their social skills. In addition, men’s and women’s personalities are affected differently based on hoe they use the internet.
- Carducci, B. (2009). The Psychology of personality: Viewpoints, research, and applications (2nd ed.). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
- Gackenbach, J., & Stackelberg, H. (2007). Self online: Personality and demographic implications. In J. Gackenbach (Ed.), Psychology and the internet: Intrapersonal, interpersonal and transpersonal (pp. 55-73). California: Academic Press.
- Hertlein, K., & Blumer, M. (2013). The Internet in intimate relationships. New York: Routledge.
- Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the internet. New York: Simon & Schuster.
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