Self-disclosure in online media: an active audience perspective

Hyokjin Kwak

Drexel University


The internet has tremendous promise, particularly as an interpersonal communication medium. For instance, computer-mediated communications (CMC) have altered communications options and outcomes for consumers (Zinkhan et al. 2003; Kwak et al. 2008; Nicovich 2010). Research on CMC is not new. Having realised the importance of CMC, a number of academic studies have investigated the influence of communication media and tasks (Barry & Fulmer 2004; Kock 2005). According to media richness theory (Daft & Lengel 1986), a medium has its own communication capabilities (i.e. rich vs lean medium) based upon the degree of communication task. Even though research on this theory has been abundant, there are still many unexplored areas. First, media richness theory was developed before newer communication media (i.e. the computer, the internet) were fully developed. As a result, most studies looking at media effects have compared traditional face-to-face communication (and/or videoconferencing) with various forms of CMC (i.e. electronic mail). Second, most studies using the theory have focused on media choice rather than media use. Therefore, a focal proposition of the theory still remains in question.