Image, Identity and Pseudonymity in Online Discussions

By Andrea Chester and Agi O'Hara.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is a considerable body of research that examines pseudonymity in
various, social, online contexts. Pseudonymous interactions offer
potential for enhanced confidence, disinhibition, and
self-presentational exploration. These same features, however, may lead
users to perceive pseudonymous interactions as less honest and less
trustworthy. All of which have potential implications for education. In
our research, 150 undergraduate students in courses with compulsory
online discussions were offered self-presentation options including the
use of real or constructed names and real or constructed images. Pre and
post-test questionnaires were used to evaluate how and why students
choose to represent themselves when given a choice, the effect of these
choices on the formation of impressions of their group, as well as their
impact on learning. Results suggest that students were generally
motivated by a desire to be honest, but that this was manifested in
different self-presentational strategies. Self-presentation was related
to grades, but not perceived learning. Ways to improve pseudonymous
online discussions are considered.

Keywords: Online Learning, Pseudonymity, Self-presentation, Online Discussions

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp.193-204. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 936.026KB).

Dr. Andrea Chester

Third Year Coordinator, Division of Psychology, School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Andrea is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences, where she coordinates and teaches a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She also maintains a clinical practice. Her research is concentrated around the twin themes of online teaching and learning and online interventions.

Agi O'Hara

University of Sydney, Australia

Agi is a lecturer in psychology to social work students specialising in the areas of counselling, child abuse, domestic violence, suicide prevention, grief and groupwork. Her academic interests include flexible learning using online interventions, suicide prevention and mentoring. She is a registered psychologist working with individuals, couples and groups.


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