Friday, 19 October 2012

Models of cyberspace II

2: Do you think group memberships are important to communication in cyberspace and why?

Group memberships are very important when concerning communication via the cyberspace environment, even when considering the lack of physically present cues and senses such as touch, smell and physical presence. Groups in cyberspace can lead to discussions of topics, huge online support aimed for specific groups, such as ‘’, and communication between people for educational purposes, such as Moodle; all of which are extremely useful and are positive uses of the cyberspace environment and group activities. Another factor of groups such as Moodle are important as resources that are posted on Moodle for students would not be available unless students are a part of the Moodle group, therefore illustrating further the necessity of group membership in cyberspace.

Ultimately, group memberships bring people together that share interests, experiences or hobbies, thus initiating an immediate discussion point and support within a group if needed. Because of this ability, group support is much more available through cyberspace than when face to face, and it is much easier to become part of a chosen group to discuss and share what is necessary for that chosen group. Group memberships in Cyberspace allows for people to understand exactly what someone is going through because of the immediate similarities between group members, again allowing support mechanisms for those that need it. Another advantage of being involved in an online group is that people generally feel it is easier to talk online as they have time to think about what they want to say as well as being immune from immediate face to face responses. Also, anonymity increases the ability to communicate with others about a given subject topic, as people can say whatever they like without having to face up to the responses that may be formed, which is quite dissimilar to real-world group membership. Although group memberships are incredibly important to communication online, this accessibility can also attract negative group discussions, for example paedophiles or other criminals who may want to discuss how they became involved in this interest and share how they go about supplying themselves with their needs. The ability to be completely anonymous in cyberspace increases the dangerousness and severity of having access to these group discussions, thus highlighting the negative side of the importance of group memberships. Nonetheless, in this case group memberships are important to the people that are criminals and want to discuss it with others, whether negatively or positively utilised.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Early Models of Cyberpsychology

1: Based on your experience in various cyberspace venues, is there, as Short et al (1976) proposed, a lack of the presence of others when communicating and interacting online? And does this affect how you behave?

From personal experiences, it depends on what kind of venue you are in whether or not you experience a lack of presence of others when online. For example, a social networking site does not tend to encourage the sensation of presence in that particular environment; however, a multi-media environment where one has their own figure to explore the venue does. I think that this can affect the way you behave in different ways depending on what kind of virtual environment you are in at the time. On Facebook, people can change the ways in which they behave as it could make them more narcissistic due to the ability to report ‘what is on your mind’. On top of this, narcissism can increase and become obsessive as some people check how many ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ they may have on a particular post that they have created. A study called ‘It Is All about Being Popular: The Effects of Need for Popularity on Social Network Site Use’ by Sonja Utz, Martin Tanis, and Ivar Vermeulen (16th January, 2012) highlights that behaviour can significantly change when concerning need for popularity and social networking sites. Another factor to consider when Facebook is being discussed is that it could also increase the ability to observe others’ behaviours and can lead to an unhealthy obsession with certain people.

 Online gaming and being existent in a multi-media environment online can also change your behaviour. Personally, I think this is due to the fact that you live a life in the virtual world through your personal figure and you can become attached to this figure and this way of life within the given environment. This can affect behaviour because it could make you become much more sensitive about other people’s actions against your character, and thus may make you become more aggressive online, and subsequently taking any offence personally rather than maintaining a gaming status. One study by Nicholas David Bowman, Daniel Schultheiss, and Christina Schumann (12th March, 2012) found that character attachment (CA) does have an effect on behaviour online, and that pro-social gamers have a greater sense of control over their characters, whereas anti-social gamers are more likely to forget about the real world and do not take responsibility over their actions in their virtual environment. Therefore, behaviour can change depending on the virtual environment, especially when a sense of physical presence is experienced.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Personality traits and the immersion into Cyberspace

2: Comment on the quality of spatiality in graphical worlds and how this affordance might be related to a sense of ‘immersion’ and presence/co-presence.

Being in a 3D cyberspace environment such as Second Life allows for spatial awareness in terms of your own personal avatar, the camp sites and other buildings that are present in the Second Life environment. Although senses like touch, physical presence and taste are not possible to accomplish in any cyberspace environment, some graphical worlds are better quality than others when concerning spatiality. An example of this would be in games such as x-box Kinect when playing on the games that involves you to be the control, meaning that these games have the ability to gain spatial and physical awareness through cyberspace.  Ultimately, these abilities within cyberspace may be related to a sense of immersion, presence and co-presence: One explanation for this could be the development of the cyberspace environment becoming very similar to the real-world space, therefore making the cyberspace environment more realistic.


3: Consider which personality traits (if any) may be related to the feeling, in some, of ‘deep immersion’ in graphical worlds.

Personally, there are not specific personality traits that determine whether one is more susceptible to deep immersion in a graphical world. It depends how much spare time one has to fill in order to become deeply immersed into the cyberspace environment. This therefore suggests that people who have more spare time to interact with the cyberspace environment are more likely to become deeply immersed in that environment. People with less spare time may not become deeply immersed as often, simply because they are spending more of their time doing real-world activities. However, it is more understandable for people of a quiet and shy nature to become enthralled in the cyberspace environment because enables one to increase their own confidence and to say or behave exactly how they want to, whereas in the real-world this may not be the case. Furthermore, people that lack control over their own lives in the real world may become more immersed in cyberspace because they gain control over their cyber-self and can therefore control certain factors in their cyberspace environment.  Another factor to consider is that technology has advanced so much in recent years and has become available to a much wider audience than twenty years ago. This could have an effect on whether people become deeply immersed simply because children now have much more access to the graphical world of games than the generation above them did. This suggests that it is not a specific personality trait but a significant tool that is used vastly in our current society and era.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Affordances of Cyberspace

1: How do the current characteristics of the internet environment shape our behaviour and affect our psychology there?

The internet environment may have opened up numerous doors to millions of people who would not normally have access to so much in the real world, however, it does lack in certain areas that has had an effect on our own behaviours and psychological processes whilst we are in the cyberspace environment. Identity flexibility is one of the main characteristics of cyberspace that can have huge effects psychologically and even more drastic effects on our own behaviour. This seems to be a product of having the ability to be anonymous in the virtual world and thus holding little or no accountability or responsibility when carrying out certain behaviours online; behaviours that in the real-world would most certainly have enormous consequences. An example of lack of responsibility and accountability for one's actions would be through the website called . This website claims that people are being videoed whilst they are being murdered, and the more people that click on the website, the less people seem to question their own responsibility for taking part and witnessing a murder. In the real world, being involved in anything of this kind of calibre would have astronomical effects on one's life, however online people do not seem to question their own accountability for something so sinister due to the absence of physical presence, much in the same way that people can be unaffected by watching films of a graphic nature. Personally, online experiences like this seem to lack personification and reality for some people, whether an event looks very realistic or not, and some may even believe that because they are not there physically, that the event is not actually occurring, where in truth it is. This suggests that people detach from the self whilst they are present in the cyberspace environment and thus explains why our behaviour and attitudes change significantly when online.

Another factor of identity flexibility is the reality that most of us are innocently portraying a different personality type online compared to the real world. This can be evident through websites such as online dating, facebook and twitter where you can develop obsessive personality traits and false ones. For example, when forming relationships online, whether they are friendships or romances, most people are much more confident when conversing in the cyberspace environment, whereas in the real world, people tend to be much more guarded and perceived as shy, therefore demonstrating th effects of cyberspace on behaviour and its psychological influences.