Chen, Guo-Ming [faculty advisor, Department of Communication Studies




communication; technology; culture; gender; relations


Self-disclosure occurs when one person communicates personal information about his or her self to another. This information can include facts, opinions, or feelings, and can vary in both breadth and depth. The amount of self-disclosure a person offers depends on several factors. The gender and personality of the person, the relationship they have with the listener, or target, the topic they are discussing, and the medium through which they are communicating all influence how much they are willing to reveal about themselves.

Another aspect that affects self-disclosure is culture. Culture refers to a set of beliefs, values, and traditions shared by a group. High-context cultures, like China and Japan, have been shown to disclose personal information less often than low-context cultures, like the United States. The ability for different cultures to communicate with one another successfully is more important than ever. International business and travel have become more common and knowing how to communicate effectively with the culture you are surrounded by is essential. The use of the internet is also widespread, and it is important to learn how communication styles vary across media.

The purpose of this study is to determine patterns of self-disclosure among American and Chinese students through both face-to-face and internet communication. A survey was distributed to about 300 college students to measure their levels of self-disclosure when discussing various topics, including opinions, interests, work, money, oneself, and body, with different targets, including father, mother, stranger, acquaintance, and intimate friend in both face-to-face and internet contexts. T-tests will be used to analyze the differences of self-disclosure between the two contexts. Gender differences will also be compared. Finally, the study will conclude with a discussion, and direction for future research in this line of study