Comparing online and offline self-disclosure: a systematic review

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2012 Feb;15(2):103-11. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0277. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


Disclosure of personal information is believed to be more frequent in online compared to offline communication. However, this assumption is both theoretically and empirically contested. This systematic review examined existing research comparing online and offline self-disclosure to ascertain the evidence for current theories of online communication. Studies that compared online and offline disclosures in dyadic interactions were included for review. Contrary to expectations, disclosure was not consistently found to be greater in online contexts. Factors such as the relationship between the communicators, the specific mode of communication, and the context of the interaction appear to moderate the degree of disclosure. In relation to the theories of online communication, there is support for each theory. It is argued that the overlapping predictions of each theory and the current state of empirical research highlights a need for an overarching theory of communication that can account for disclosure in both online and offline interactions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Online Systems*
  • Self Disclosure*