Privacy, emotional closeness, and openness in cyberspace

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Emotions are typically associated with closeness and openness. The desire for privacy seems to contradict these related emotional features. Being emotionally close means losing some of our privacy, and maintaining a greater degree of privacy prevents us from being emotionally close. Similarly, great openness endangers our privacy and may cause us harm, and a great degree of privacy decreases our openness. I will argue here that the conflicts between privacy and emotional closeness and between privacy and openness are considerably weaker in cyberspace. The relative anonymity of cyberspace and the ability to control which matters we wish to reveal allow us to safeguard our privacy while increasing emotional closeness and openness. In fact, the nature of privacy itself has undergone a significant change in cyberspace since many matters that are usually kept private tend to be discussed in cyberspace. The greater tendency toward closeness and openness online has led to a redefinition of the nature of shame, which like privacy is connected to fundamental values that we want to safeguard. Privacy is characterized as the right to be left alone, to be allowed to pursue one's activities without interference, scrutiny or comment. Why is such a right important? Why do we want to be left alone without having the focus or attention of other people trained on us? The simple answer is that such scrutiny can harm us as it may conflict with some of the values that we hold, or that other people significant to us hold. However, while we wish to guard our privacy, we also want to be close and open with others by expressing our genuine emotional attitudes through which honesty is developed in a relationship.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)451-467
    Number of pages17
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Jul 2003


    • Cyberspace
    • Emotional closeness
    • Emotions
    • Openness
    • Privacy
    • Self-disclosure
    • Shame

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Human-Computer Interaction
    • Psychology (all)


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