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The Psychology of the Internet First Edition Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521632942
ISBN-10: 0521632943
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Internet abounds with folk psychologists. People who have never so much as read a Dr. Joyce Brothers column are happy to explain, after their first taste of a chat room or online discussion, just why it is that humans behave in curious ways on the Net. By now, though, the Internet has been around long enough that a fair number of actually credentialed social scientists have given it a close look, and Patricia Wallace has done us all the favor of summing up their observations--and hers--in a single volume, The Psychology of the Internet. A clear, concise, and comprehensive overview of the emotional and behavioral dimensions of life online, this brief textbook should be basic reading for every armchair cybershrink.

Starting with a useful breakdown of the variety of Internet experiences (chat spaces, newsgroups, home pages, auction sites), Wallace moves on to examine the many ways these settings can influence the ways we act and feel. Such hot-button topics as flame wars, online gender-bending, cyberporn, and Internet "addiction" (as well as subtler matters like online impression formation and group dynamics) here get a levelheaded look, anchored in studies not only of the phenomena themselves but of human behavior in general. Wallace writes in a brisk, simple style--employing an easy blend of anecdote and science--and the conclusion that gradually emerges is just as straightforward: Contrary to popular mythology, people online aren't any more or less twisted than people offline. They just twist a little differently, is all. --Julian Dibbell

From Publishers Weekly

Even though we may behave differently in cyberspace than in the "real world," our actions are predictable responses to particular features of online environments, contends Wallace as she sets out to conceptualize behavior on the Internet. Drawing on the latest Internet simulation studies as well as classic psychological experiments and business and social science research, she provides an expansive overview of online behaviorAfrom deception and aggression to altruism and romanceAas well as of the elements that make the Internet "addictive." Among Wallace's observations: real-world psychological research confirms that people tend to become less inhibited in anonymous situations; thus, online environments that foster anonymity can prompt individuals to behave in more extreme ways (e.g., acting aggressively or making intimate personal disclosures) than they would in a face-to-face context. On the other hand, individuals don't tend to conform to unanimous group positions on the Net as they often do in person. The relative lack of consequences for behavior on the Internet is an important influencing factor: Internet users can experiment with alterations in their identities that they might not be willing to risk in the real world. However, Wallace cites many examples of poseurs who have inflicted undue harm on their trusting online companions. This is a well-organized and accessible primer on the impact of the Internet on social and workplace dynamics. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (September 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521632943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521632942
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,240,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Supported by knowledge of recent research, the author provides insight into how people sometimes behave differently on the Internet than they do in real life. According to Wallace, behaviors based on psychology in real life often do not carry over into the virtual world in the same way. For frequent users of the Internet, this information is not startling but eye-opening. For those who use the Internet little or not at all, this is a well-presented introduction to the cyberworld. Although academic in tone, the book is easy to read as it explores the many facets of life on the "Net". Because it is based on clinical research, it gets a bit wearying near the end. However, be sure to read it in its entirety because it is well presented, very inclusive, and quite interesting. Since completing this book, I am more fully cognizant of the different behaviors of "Web" users each time I log on. This would include those inhabitants of cyberspace as well as those who dwell within my own home! :-)
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Format: Hardcover
Generally, the "The Psychology of the Internet" is a broad sweeping, albeit whirlwind, run through a wide gamut of psychological issues as they might--or might not--apply to the Internet. This is an important topic that could provide insight into how the Internet, as it becomes increasingly pervasive, will affect human relations. From my perspective, some of the more salient topics included the advantages and disadvantages of group interactions and the possibilities for conflict and resolution. Dr. Wallace provides a good analysis of some of the ways in which individual behavior changes on the Net and off. Additionally, the book covers a number of other topics, such as the psychology of "flaming," pornography, Internet addiction, altruism, and gender issues.
For those who are well read in the area of psychology on the Internet, there is a fair amount of rehashing of material that has been extensively covered elsewhere. For example, Dr. Sherry Turkle's 1995 "Life on the Screen," extensively discusses the fluidity of personalities on the web, the issues of anonymity, and the effects of computerized psychotherapy. Both Turkle's work, and the seminal work of Rheingold ("The Virtual Community"), have already extensively covered the peculiar nature of MUDs and Usenet, as well as the notorious cases of cyberrape on LambdaMOO and other cyberdeceptions. The book also relies heavily on the oft-cited studies of Amy Bruckman and Dr. Sara Kiesler.
In general, the topics that are presented appear to be well documented in a clear and accessible style with up-do-date information. Dr.
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Format: Paperback
This book came at a time when most books written about internet by social scientists, journalists etc., were either too focused on very incidental benefits of internet like the virtual communities, or starkly apolocalyptic in their analyses or chracterized by a Pollyanna utopianism. More speculative thinking that research and analysis chracterizes many books on the internet.

This one, based on a thorough grounding in social psychology and a comprehensive review of empirical literature on the subject, studies how behavior and thinking has got effected by the internet, how we behave offline and online, how going online effects us etc.

However, this is a book on the social psychology of the internet and not psychology proper. It's more about how we behave online etc., than about how internet alters cognition. Nevertheless, at the end of reading it, the reader feels a sense of having returned with a much deeper understanding than he or she could have achieved on his/her own.
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Format: Paperback
This is an early attempt to analyze Internet psychology. Patricia M. Wallace uses established psychological research - where it applies - to lay the foundation for understanding Internet psychology. Wherever possible, she cites contemporary Internet psychology research in presenting her opinions and conclusions; the problem is that there isn't any. She finds very few compelling Internet research studies, and she's the one who knows where to look. This book is just a little early out of the dock. The Internet is evolving so quickly that discussion of research conducted on Usenet groups already seems quaint. We [...] recommend this book to people who want a general psychological review of the impact of the Internet. However, the same lightening-fast change that makes these questions so fascinating also makes it very difficult to pin down the answers.
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Format: Paperback
Can you write a book on social and psychological aspects of the internet which is not outdated 10 years after publication? Patricia Wallace manages the impossible. Written before the turn of the century, the book carefully describes and draws conclusions on internet behaviour and interaction. The observation that the advances and changes of the last decade have little impact on the findings are supportive of their validity and strength.

It's also entertaining to read and accessible for the non-psychologist. Recommended.
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