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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2002 Dec;5(6):551-7.

College students' Internet use, relationship formation, and personality correlates.

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Department of Psychology, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina, USA.


The Internet has become a standard fixture in the lives of many people, with communication being one of its most popular uses. Several mediums-such as electronic mail (e-mail), group mailing forums, interactive games, and real-time chatting-provide users with communication opportunities. Through extended communication on the Internet, many users have formed relationships with others online. Several aspects of the Internet medium interact to make the course of relationship development online differ from offline development. The Internet is still a rather uncharted area in terms of psychological research, especially in the field of online relationship development. This research examined college students' Internet use, relationship formation, and personality characteristics. No differences were found between participants who did and did not form new relationships online. However, differences were present within the group that formed online relationships, such as ease at finding similar others online as well as differences in social skills and loneliness scores. This calls for a reexamination of previous hypotheses regarding individuals who form relationships online.

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