Cyberpsychology in the Workforce: Online Disinhibition, Team Dynamics, and Company Culture

Jennifer Brola, Pace University

Abstract

An employee complains on Facebook that it’s too warm in her office, and the next day, she’s terminated. Everyone in the office begins to “un-friend” each other because they don’t know who they can trust. One instance of online disinhibition by a co-worker became a perceived cultural change amongst the workforce of the entire company. Is there a way to establish, based on evidence, that connection between social media and company culture? ^ This research focused on the survey-driven case studies of three distinct organizations. Online and offline questionnaires assessed if employees experienced online disinhibition, how those respondents would scale the culture where they work, and if their use of social media can be categorized as a protected form of free speech. Typical demographic questions were also included to analyze responses by factors such as age. ^ The survey, managed with Qualtrics, was an expansion on the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI). Additional questions covered the six points of online disinhibition (dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjections, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority) as well as topics such as the prosocial bonding capabilities of gossip. ^ This investigation discovered that while experiencing online disinhibition is still uncommon, many employees are at risk of exhibiting it. Secondly, a meaningful number of employees communicate online in ways that are legally categorized as a protected form of free speech (but that rate varies from site to site). Lastly, it appears that the social media subculture of employees, those who are most engaged online, experience a hierarchical shift in organizational culture.^

Subject Area

Sociology|Organizational behavior|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Jennifer Brola, "Cyberpsychology in the Workforce: Online Disinhibition, Team Dynamics, and Company Culture" (January 1, 2016). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI10128883.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI10128883

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