Online disinhibition: conceptualization, measurement, and implications for online deviant behavior

Christy M K Cheung*, Randy Yee Man Wong, Tommy K.H. Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Online disinhibition is one of the key factors leading to the occurrence of cyberaggression, cyberbullying and various forms of deviant behaviors in the online environment. To understand the composition of online disinhibition, this study aims to conceptualize online disinhibition and develop a measurement instrument for online disinhibition. Design/methodology/approach: We followed a rigorous procedure to develop and validate the multidimensional instrument of online disinhibition in three phases: item generation, measurement development and instrument testing. Findings: We developed a 23-item online disinhibition scale and identified six key dimensions: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjections, dissociative imagination and minimization of authority. Practical implications: The online disinhibition instrument is an accessible and easily administered measure that can be used as a checklist for systems designers and administrators to evaluate the level of online disinhibition among users. It offers systems design information on how to prevent and combat online deviant behaviors on platforms. Originality/value: This work provides a rich conceptualization of an online disinhibition instrument that can serve as a springboard for future work to understand online deviant behaviors. The newly developed measurement instrument of online disinhibition also adds to the repository of rigorous research scales in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-64
Number of pages17
JournalIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Industrial relations
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cyberaggression
  • Cyberbullying
  • Dark side of technology use
  • Instrument development and validation
  • Multidimensional constructs
  • Online deviant behaviors
  • Online disinhibition


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