Exploring Online Communication Patterns: Examining the Relationship Between Empathy, Self-Compassion, Dehumanization, Aggression in Social Media Activity
The goal of the current study was to examine how geographically diverse adult Americans communicate online and what factors influence the tone of their communication. The study explores online communication and connection through social media platforms. The literature reviewed in preparation for the project emphasized the rise of internet aggression and its dehumanizing impact (Twenge, 2013). As Xu, Xu, Li (2016) explain in their summary of internet aggression research, “Internet aggression is regarded as a serious problem in online communities, and it has caused negative consequences in cyber- space” (p.642). The aim of the current study was to further explore factors that contribute to aggressive behavior online. The current study found that individuals with lower levels of empathy are more likely to have higher levels of dehumanizing beliefs and aggressive behavior online. Significant positive relationships were found between self-compassion and empathy, as well as self-compassion being significantly and negatively correlated to aggression. The findings of the current study may support Bandura’s social cognitive theory’s assertion that with a heightened sense of self-worth, individuals are able engage in self-censurer behavior (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996). The study also found that participants with higher levels of trait aggression and dehumanizing beliefs were more likely to be aggressive online. In total, the findings of the current study support the idea that how individuals treat each other online is directly related their perception of and ability to find empathy for others.
Lynn University Arts and Sciences Student Symposium
Boca Raton, FL
College of Arts and Sciences
Kaufman, A. & O'Gieblyn, A. (2019, March 26). Exploring online communication patterns: Examining the relationship between empathy, self-compassion, dehumanization, aggression in social media activity. Poster presentation given at the Arts and Sciences Student Symposium at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL.