What is the disinhibition effect?

dishibition effect

The disinhibition effect, sometimes called ‘online disinhibition’ is a term used to describe how people do and say things online that they wouldn’t ordinarily do in the face to face world.

When online, behind a keyboard or phone, people usually loosen up and feel more uninhibited to express themselves. This behaviour can reflect in ways that people are more open to expressing themselves by disclosing personal information, hidden feelings for others or participating in online abuse against others.

When those who are inhibited online express themselves in negative ways, it can lead to them acting in negative ways to others, such as trolling. Trolling can profoundly affect the person receiving the abuse, as typically the one who is giving the abuse will hide behind an unnamed, or faceless profile or social media account.

The true self

Does the disinhibition effect allow people to become their true self online? Possibly. A woman with repressed anger may be hostile to others online, thereby showing how she truly feels.


One sure thing is that the way we behave online can have wide-reaching effects on those subject to negative emotions. It’s important always to think before we act to ensure the worlds or actions we use do not unnecessarily harm others’ mental health.

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