Monday, November 17, 2008

What the heck is "online disinhibition effect" ?

On Flushdance's blog, I read a post in which he won a heads-up tournament. In a key hand, he busted K K with 8 4. The other player was not amused, to say the least. I hope Danish player Joxum doesn't mind if I post here the comments the villain made after the match was over:

(If he does mind, please leave me a comment, and I'll delete it.)

In the Flushdance comments section, I remarked about this lout's behavior and Joxum asked, "Would they do it in a live game?"

Actually, the answer no. In person, players occasionally act like jerks, but in general, it would certainly be much less both in frequency and intensity. People who can hide behind a curtain, known as the Internet, are much more likely to say crazy and nasty things. Online boards are clogged with insults hurled by people hiding behind screen names. Online chat boxes and message forums offer faceless, consequence-free communication. You don't have to look someone in the eye, so to speak, and nice people become ass h um raving maniacs.

This guy said it well:

"It's well known that people say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn't ordinarily say or do in the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly. Researchers call this the 'disinhibition effect.' . . .

"Out spills rude language and harsh criticisms, anger, hatred, even threats. Or people explore the dark underworld of the internet, places of pornography and violence, places they would never visit in the real world. We might call this toxic disinhibition."

--- From John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace.

Here's a link to an article by someone in the Psych Department at the University of North Dakota -- they call it "On the Internet nobody knows you're a dog." I love the title.

Someone at Michigan State University wrote his/her Master's thesis on this same topic.

Comments, anyone?


  1. Disinhibition is a close cousin to uninhibited. The difference is in the meaning of the prefix. Uninhibited is without inhibitions, while "dis" implies a setting-aside, a removal, if temporary.

    Years of close readings philosophical jargon and to understand subtle distinctions (undergrad) sometimes pays off.

  2. I've found the limit hold 'em cash games are even more filled with people that are disinhibited. LHE is such a different game from NLHE that people get furious when you call from the button with almost any two cards. But that's LHE, it sharpens your post-flop play. People get very frustrated and take it out in the chat. Most of the time I just ignore it.

  3. Surely the anonymity of the Internet is only partial in these cases, as the online site will know who they really are from financial details.

    The ODE is worse on Bridge Base Online than OKB because BBO is a free site and you really can be anyone. But they have a good 'abuse' department and it is rare to see anything much worse than this.

    And you can always mark someone as an enemy to ignore all their rant.

  4. "freakin donks from northern europe" !

  5. Hey this is interesting stuff.

    Didn't know they had such a smart name for it.

    /j. (who will keep busting the disinhibited with ATC, just for the kick of it)