Self-disclosure in social networking sites: The role of perceived cost, perceived benefits and social influence


While the issue of self-disclosure is a complex one that cannot be discussed fully here, in this section we hope to simply provide some food for thought. Concluded that, compared to negative emotional disclosures, “positive emotional disclosures are more likely to be made, are considered more appropriate, and are reciprocated to a greater extent” (p. 468), at least in Western cultures. Frank E, Breyan J, Elon L. Physician disclosure of healthy personal behaviors improves credibility and ability to motivate. Often, circumstances are such that physicians can allow themselves a certain amount of self-disclosure as long as they remain in control.


So if you attribute your coworker’s comments to the fact that you are best friends at work, you think your unique relationship caused the disclosure. We have many types of information we can disclose, but we have to determine whether or not we will proceed with disclosure by considering the situation and the potential risks.

Understanding self-disclosure in intimate relationship

When a relationship is new, early conversations tend to involve self-disclosure reciprocity. Put another way, new acquaintances tend to match one another’s disclosures; when one partner opens up and discloses, the other ends up disclosing as well. As one partner’s disclosure increases in intimacy, so too does the other partner’s disclosure. Because self-disclosure is reciprocal, it both influences and is influenced by the intimacy level between two people. Thus, if you want to get to know someone, one strategy is to disclose personal information about yourself to the person you want to get to know. Over time and over the course of a number of conversations, a relationship becomes increasingly more intimate.


The Pennebaker Writing Disclosure Paradigm is a method commonly used in therapy settings to facilitate writing about one’s experiences. Exposure theory also offers support in that reliving and talking about a negative event should help the negative affect to be more accepted by the individual overtime through extinction. Humanistic theorists have been the highest in rating self-disclosure as part of their normal therapeutic methods. Clearly, today’s therapists are mostly supportive of disclosure in therapy, as the early psychoanalytic taboo of such is slowly being overridden through the recognition of many schools of thought.

How Self-Disclosure Affects Relationships

With this in mind, I shared a brief story about my father, how we had been through a long period in which our relationship was conflictual and how we eventually worked to move toward a more harmonious relationship. Cultural context is an important factor to consider in terms of how and to what degree to engage in self-disclosure. Thoughtful and intentional self-disclosure can help counselors build alliances with individual clients and with communities outside of their own. In the spirit of self-disclosure, I’ll share an anecdote about nonimmediate self-disclosure from my own practice. Early in my counseling career, I worked with indigenous communities, and one of my first experiences was to co-facilitate groups on the topic of healthy families and communities. In preparing for the upcoming groups, my supervisor asked me, “Have you thought about what story you are going to share about yourself?


Caitlyn M. Bennett is a licensed mental health counselor and an assistant professor at the University of North Texas. By clicking “Get Brochure,” I agree to provide the contact information listed above for the purpose of receiving communications regarding educational programs and opportunities. Ask yourself in advance of using self-disclosure just how the disclosure will help the client. Unless a clear benefit to the client can be identified, self-disclosure should not be used. By clicking “Submit,” I agree to provide the contact information listed above for the purpose of receiving communications regarding educational programs and opportunities. We see that other people have gone through the same situation and have come out on the other side, helping us feel connected.

The Benefits of Using Self-Disclosure

One downside to all of the connections that can be formed online regards the effect called the “illusion of large numbers.” This effect means that people overestimate how many people share the same opinion as them. This can be especially harmful if someone holds negative views of a particular group because they may not realize that their views are very different from the mainstream.

John J. Murphy is a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology and counseling at the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author of the book Solution-Focused Counseling in Schools, published by ACA. Counseling Today recently collected insights about counselor from American Counseling Association members of varied backgrounds and practice settings. Hagedorn doesn’t believe that self-disclosure should be an automatic, out-of-the-gate technique for counselor practitioners. Rather, he advises, counselors should consider it a tool to keep in reserve, using it only when appropriate — and with clear intention. I personally carried around a big burden for years because I was not able to accept the way I acted in a certain situation.

Antecedents of positive self-disclosure online: an empirical study of US college students’ Facebook usage

Once you’ve decided when and where to disclose information to another person, you need to figure out the best channel to use. Face-to-face disclosures may feel more genuine or intimate given the shared physical presence and ability to receive verbal and nonverbal communication. There is also an opportunity for immediate verbal and nonverbal feedback, such as asking follow-up questions or demonstrating support or encouragement through a hug. The immediacy of a face-to-face encounter also means you have to deal with the uncertainty of the reaction you’ll get. If the person reacts negatively, you may feel uncomfortable, pressured to stay, or even fearful.

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Third, the backgrounds of online contacts may impact SNS users’ patterns of self-disclosure. For instance, child users behave differently when their SNS accounts are connected to that of their parents.68 Future research should study individual strategies of self-disclosure in different online contexts.

People who are naturally introverted or reserved tend to take much longer to get to know other people, which is often influenced by their tendency to hold back on disclosing things about themselves. Carly Snyder, MD is a Self-Disclosure reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. When information is withheld, distance is created and closeness is nearly impossible to facilitate.

This allows them to carefully select and edit their messages and gives them more control over their side of the conversation that they would not have outside of the Internet. There are also no interruptions in online communication that occur in face-to-face conversation. A person is able to “hold the floor” and say as little or as much as they would like in these communications, allowing them to fully form their point.

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