June 15, 2001 at 5:00 am #16021BigBlueBall NewsMember
June 15, 2001
You have talked for hours, and things are really clicking. But that smart, bubbly stranger you met on the Internet may be a completely different person in real life, researchers reported here on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society.
In a new study, people who reviewed chatroom conversations and tried to assess the personalities of Web-chatters turned out to be way off the mark, according to Dr. Steven V. Rouse, of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
It leaves me with the conclusion that if I am going to meet someone in an Internet chatroom, I need to be highly skeptical that the person is who I believe they are, Rouse said in an interview with Reuters Health.
The growing popularity of chatrooms, instant messaging, and e-mail has changed the way people form and maintain relationships. But how effective is print-based communication at imparting the truth about who we are?
In his experiment, Rouse administered standard personality tests to 82 male or female undergraduate students. Each of the students was then asked to join Internet chatrooms in which groups of up to 13 participants played a challenging word game. A chatbox at the bottom of the screen allowed players to provide their own running commentary on the game, each other, or whatever else entered their minds.
Transcripts of these commentaries were recorded at the conclusion of each 2-hour game session. A separate group of students then read over the assembled Web chatter, using it as a tool to assess the personality of each player.
The result? The study found almost no relationship between real-world personalities–as ascertained by psychological tests–and the perceptions of those who had only Web chatter to go by.
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