Ignoring Red Flags: Self Efficacy and Self-Disclosure in Online Romantic Relationships

Author: Kira Hunt
Major: Psychology
Approved: Fall 2019
Status: In progress

Since 2013, the number of adults 18 to 24 years old using online dating sites and mobile apps to engage with others has nearly tripled (Smith, 2015). For this age range, individuals are said to be in emerging adulthood, a period of exploration in many areas of life including love (Wood et al., 2017). During this period, individuals develop skills needed to become self-sufficient, participate in committed relationships, and obtain a sufficient level of education or training that prepares them for adulthood (Wood et al., 2017). Their ability in doing so can have a major impact on the beliefs of their capability or their self-efficacy (Riggio et al., 2013). Developing stable, committed, and intimate relationships are extremely important to one’s development and failure to do so can severely hinder them and have a negative impact later in life (Rauer et al., 2013). With the increased use of online dating, potential romances are more readily available. However, dangers surrounding dating someone met online (e.g. misrepresentation), as illustrated by MTV’s Catfish, are also a major concern. Additionally, without social cues usually gathered from face-to-face interactions, individuals often have intense feelings of intimacy and hyper-personal interactions when conversing online (Sharabi & Dykstra-DeVette, 2019). According to hyperpersonal theory, these interactions lead to more self- disclosure than in face-to-face interactions (Ruppel et al., 2016). My distinction project will be focused on the associations between self-efficacy in romantic relationships and self-disclosure in online- initiated relationships. The study will utilize both self-reports and electroencephalogram (EEG) to determine if there is a difference in romantic self-efficacy for those who share different levels of information to potential romantic partners met through computer-mediated communication.