How self-disclosure affects our everyday lives

Self Disclosure & Trust in relationships 

Self-disclosure is defined as the process of making the self known to others; the telling of the previously unknown so that it becomes shared knowledge (Jourard and Lasakow 1958: 91).  It can be shared in romantic relationships, friendships, or basically any relationship involving pairs.

 According to the article, Self-disclosure, privacy and the Internet, it explains some important benefit’s self-disclosure has to offer.  Trust is one of the main value’s that self-disclosure has to offer.  Self-disclosure strengthens the ties that bind people together in numerous kinds of relationships.  In romantic relationships especially, self-disclosing offers a sense of mutual agreement between the pair.  When in a relationship, you need that gained trust to be able to move forward.  Another important value self-disclosure brings to relationships is legitimizing group memberships and strengthening group identity.  When you reveal certain information to a group of people, you are creating an identity for yourself and therefore trusting the group to accept you.  Personal growth is a common outcome of honest self-disclosure.  



Social media becoming brain candy

According to a study done by Debroah Netburn from Harvard University, she explains why it is necessary for social media users feel the need to disclose any and all information on their everyday lives.  She goes on to explain the findings of an experiment that she and other researchers conducted. “The act of disclosing information about oneself activates the same sensation of pleasure in the brain that we get from eating food, getting money or having sex,” Netburn states.  It is very clear that typing something on the computer does not physically feel the same as the examples she provided, however the science makes it clear that self-disclosing provides a rewarding experience.  

A separate study was created by Diana Tamir to determine the excitement of social media use including Facebook, Twitter, etc.  The study watched participants brain activity when they were asked to talk about themselves via social media and to talk about somebody else.  Of course, when people were able to talk about themselves their excitement level increased.  

Researchers also found that these participants would turn down a small amount of money to talk about somebody else because they would rather talk about themselves.  Somebody with 700+ Facebook friends feels a sense of pleasure when sharing a story because in their mind they think the audience cares about their personal story.  However, most people with this amount of Facebook friends personally know less than a third of them.  Why would somebody who has never met you want to hear about the multiple stories shared on a Facebook page; they will most likely continue to scroll their page until something catches their eye.  



I admit it, I too love the social media world; I hope to eventually work with social media in the future.  Casually enjoying social media and providing too much information via social media are two different concepts.  There have been countless times where I scroll through my Facebook or Twitter newsfeed and think to myself, “Why are you sharing this story with everyone?” 

Disclosing subtle information is acceptable, for example sharing that you have gotten a new job or accepted into a particular university. Sharing every little detail about romantic relationships or arguments that have occurred in a friendship is not exactly what people want to be reading.  

I do however, think it is great when relationships become stronger by personally self-disclosing (outside of social media).  Trust is a huge factor in a successful relationship and without it, it will be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship.  


In your personal lives, do you ever read the lengthy posts by Facebook friends that you have never met?  Do you feel that it is necessary to read them or care about what they say?  If not, why don’t you just unfriend them so it gets removed from your newsfeed? 


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