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TMI? Some FB Users Don't Think So

Albright College Research Reveals Some People are More Comfortable Expressing their True Self on Facebook than in Real Life



June 11, 2014


Reading, Pa. – Ever wonder why some Facebook friends post little about themselves, while others seem to share their innermost desires and feelings?

It may be due to the expression of the “true self,” which contains qualities you possess but don’t normally feel comfortable sharing with other people. And some of us feel more comfortable expressing our true self to hundreds of Facebook acquaintances than to a few face-to-face, in-the-flesh friends, according to research by Albright College assistant professor of psychology Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D.

The findings are included in Seidman’s article “Expressing the ‘True Self’ on Facebook,” recently published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Seidman found that people who are more comfortable expressing their true self online will post on Facebook more often and will post more personally revealing information and emotional content. These people, said Seidman, are more likely to be seeking attention, acceptance and validation from others.

Unfortunately, they’re not getting it.

“They are posting more information and more emotionally revealing information, but are not getting any more feedback than those who are less expressive,” said Seidman.

For the study, participants were asked to take a true self measure and complete a survey about their Facebook use. Scores on the true self measure were positively associated with greater use of Facebook and using the social media platform for self-motivated purposes, namely to gain attention and acceptance from others, but not for the altruistic motives of connecting with or showing care for others.

“People are doing it, in part, because they feel like they can express things about themselves that they can’t do in another context,” said Seidman, who noted that while Facebook is not anonymous, people tend to feel more removed from their audience and thus more comfortable disclosing personal information.

“People feel the urge to post and they may not always think through the impact,” she said. “But when you’re face-to-face, it is more anxiety provoking.”


Founded in 1856, Albright College is a selective, national liberal arts college enrolling 1,700 full-time undergraduates and more than 800 adult learners and graduate students. The College’s flexible interdisciplinary curriculum, strengthened by a close-knit residential learning environment, encourages students to combine majors and disciplines to create individualized academic programs. Close faculty mentorship, numerous experiential learning options, and a diverse, supportive community of scholars and learners help students exceed their own expectations and graduate with a commitment to a lifetime of service and learning. Albright College is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.

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