In research performed by Kiesler, Zubrow, Moses, and Geller (1985), they studied harsher judgement, also known as the online disinhibition effect, as a phenomenon where people are more likely to express themselves more intensely and negatively online compared to in-person interactions. This is because the anonymity and lack of nonverbal cues in text-based communication can lead to a feeling of detachment from the consequences of one's words, leading to increased aggression and incivility. This effect is often observed in online communities such as social media platforms, online forums, and chat rooms, where people can interact with others without revealing their identity.
The online disinhibition effect can manifest in various forms, including cyberbullying, trolling, and flaming. Cyberbullying refers to the use of electronic communication to bully and harass others, while trolling involves making inflammatory or off-topic comments to provoke others. Flaming refers to the use of aggressive and insulting language in online communication. These behaviors are often driven by the perceived anonymity and lack of accountability in online communication, which can lead to a lack of empathy and increased aggression.
In an online community, the Kiesler et al. harsher judgement effect can lead to a toxic environment where people are more likely to engage in negative behaviors such as cyberbullying and trolling. For example, in a social media platform like Twitter, users may feel emboldened to send harassing messages to others due to the anonymity of the platform. Similarly, in an online forum, users may engage in flaming and use aggressive language in their posts due to the lack of nonverbal cues and social pressure to behave civilly. As a result, online communities may need to implement measures such as moderation, reporting tools, and community guidelines to discourage negative behaviors and promote a more positive and inclusive environment.