The Psychology of Cyberspace

Written by: John Suler, Ph.D. (Rider University)

This free textbook is no longer available from the original source but thanks to it is still available. It was written by John Suler, Ph.D. formerly from the Department of Psychology at Rider University.

Suler discusses the psychological aspects of environments created by computers and online networks. It presents “an evolving conceptual framework for understanding how people react to and behave within cyberspace.” He calls it the “psychology of cyberspace” or cyberpsychology.

The textbook was originally written in 1996, a time before Facebook, MySpace and much of the social aspects of the web we now use on a daily basis. While no longer updated, this free online psychology textbook was last updated sometime in 2007; so Dr. Suler’s work does include those new forms of interpersonal communication.

At one time, sections of The Psychology of Cyerspace were being offered as part of a Continuing Education program where professionals could test and earn credit. It seems as if that program is no longer being offered. It may be worthwhile to check it out.

In 2006, on the 10th anniversary of the release of The Psychology of Cyberspace, Suler published an article about his view of how cyberpsychology, or at least the conversation about it, has changed. There is also a blog that accompanies this text. It hasn’t been updated since 2007 but it contains some interesting articles and observations of the web and how we interact with each other. It can be found here.

Table of Contents

1. The Basic Psychological Qualities of Cyberspace

  • Cyberspace as a psychological space
  • Basic psychological features of cyberspace
  • Networks as “mind” and “self”
  • Presence
  • The online disinhibition effect
  • Psychology of avatars and graphical space
  • Cyberspace as dream world
  • Two Paths of Virtual Reality
  • The black hole of cyberspace
  • Online lingo
  • Internet demographics
  • Cyberspace humor
  • Coping with spam

2. The Psychology of the Individual in Cyberspace

  • Identity managment in cyberspace
  • Personality types in cyberspace
  • Unique roles in cyberspace
  • Transference to computers and cyberspace
  • Addiction to computers and cyberspace
  • Regressive behavior in cyberspace
  • Online gender-switching
  • Adolescents in cyberspace
  • Wizards: The heart of an online community
  • On being a “god”
  • Y2K and apocalyptic thinking
  • Integrating online and offline living
  • eQuest: An online psychoeducational program
  • Media transitions

3. The Psychology of Cyberspace Relationships

  • In-person versus cyberspace relationships
  • Transient and long term online relationships
  • The psychology of text relationships
  • Hypotheses about online text relationships
  • E-mail communication and relationships
  • Transference among people online
  • How to resolve conflict online
  • Cyberspace romances
  • Subtlety in multimedia chat

4. Group Dynamics in Cyberspace

  • Social psychology of online groups
  • Developmental stages of mailing lists
  • Making virtual communities work
  • Early history of an online community
  • Wizards: The heart of an online community
  • Therapy and support groups in cyberspace
  • Unique groups in cyberspace
  • TextTalk: Communicating with typed text chat
  • A decision-making method for e-mail groups
  • Extending a work group into cyberspace
  • Using discussion boards in teaching
  • Group games using avatars
  • Geezer Brigade: Studying an online group
  • Managing deviant behavior in online groups

5. Research Methods in Cyberpsychology

  • Publishing online
  • Case studies of digital life forms
  • One of Us: Participant observation research
  • Steps in studying an online group
  • Ethics in cyberspace research
  • Studying full cyberspace immersion

6. Life at the Palace

7. Psychotherapy and Clinical Work in Cyberspace


View this Free Online Material at the source:
The Psychology of Cyberspace

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