Publication date: October 2019
Source: Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 99
Author(s): Nafsika Antoniadou, Constantinos M. Kokkinos, Angelos Markos
Online disinhibition is a common phenomenon with negative implications among adolescents, but its correlates have been scarcely investigated from an integrative perspective. This study aimed to examine the relationship of two socially maladaptive personal characteristics, namely psychopathic traits and social anxiety, with online disinhibition. Furthermore, the effect of empathy (affective and cognitive) was examined through moderation analysis. The investigation was based on a context-dependent theoretical framework, according to which, the structural characteristics of cyberspace increase or decrease the expression of certain personal tendencies, thus differentiating an individual’s behavior. Overall, 1097 Greek Junior High School students from Northern Greece voluntarily completed an anonymous self-report questionnaire. After construct validity was tested, a two-step latent moderated structural equation modeling was conducted. Results showed that online disinhibition correlated negatively with all variables except affective empathy. Cognitive empathy moderated only the effect of impulsive-irresponsible traits and social anxiety on online disinhibition. Overall, findings show that students with maladaptive personality characteristics have high propensity for online disinhibition. These results can contribute significantly in understanding the phenomenon, as well as in the design of prevention programs aiming at developing the cognitive empathy of impulsive and socially anxious adolescents.