Self disclosure and online dating
Even though the majority of SNS activities are oriented towards supporting existing relationships (Lampe, Ellison, & Steinfield, 2006), particularly among users with high sociability, SNS platforms are also used to expand personal networks and establish new connections (Bouchillon & Gotlieb, 2016; Smith, 2011).
Additionally, SNS platforms are increasingly used for not only socialization purposes but also as sources of information to evaluate individuals in a number of contexts, including education (e.g., Somers, 2017) and employment (e.g., Brown & Vaughn, 2011; Scott, Sinclair, Short, & Bruce, 2014).
Second, a number of studies report that irrespective of the actual content of messages shared, the frequency with which information is exchanged among dyads is positively associated with higher levels of sense of closeness and familiarity in CMC contexts (e.g., More specifically with respect to the relationship between breadth of disclosure and interpersonal attraction, evidence from research on CMC and relationship initiation suggests that increasing breadth of information shared in online relationships leads to higher liking and trust in different settings such as computer conferencing (Walther, 1993), newsgroup interactions (Mc Kenna et al., 2002), and instant messaging (Jiang et al., 2011).
Yet, the limited research on the impact of breadth of disclosure on SNS profile viewers’ first impressions about the profile owner has provided mixed results (e.g., Antheunis, Valkenburg, & Peter, 2010; Lampe et al., 2006; Limperos et al., 2014; Utz, 2010).
This article reports results from two experiments (with participants from the U.
S.) that investigate the impacts of breadth and depth of information disclosed in a profile on viewers’ attributional confidence about and interpersonal attraction to the profile owner.
First, as predicted by SPT, higher breadth of disclosure may breed liking via signaling to the receiver the discloser’s desire to initiate a closer relationship (Taylor, 1979), communicating trust, and eliciting a positive affective response from the receiver (Gibbs, Ellison, & Heino, 2006; Reis & Patrick, 1996).
Second, specific axioms of URT predict that in early phases of relationships, increases in amount of communication between strangers will reduce the level of uncertainty (Axiom 1), which will, in turn, produce interpersonal liking (Axiom 7) (Berger & Calabrese, 1975; Sunnafrank, 1986).
In the first experiment (n = 320), participants viewed a profile containing either low or high breadth of information.
Analyses indicated that, higher breadth of information shared in the profile increased interpersonal attraction and that attributional confidence mediated this relationship.