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

Christy M.K. Cheung (Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Randy Yee Man Wong (Department of Information Systems, Supply Chain Management and Decision-Making, NEOMA Business School, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France)
Tommy K.H. Chan (Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 22 October 2020

Issue publication date: 4 February 2021




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.


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.


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.


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.



The authors wish to thank the Editors and Managing Editor for their support and guidance throughout the review process.Funding: The work described in this article was partially supported by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (Project no: 71828202).The work described in this paper was partially supported by a fellowship award from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (HKBU SRFS2021-2H03).


Cheung, C.M.K., Wong, R.Y.M. and Chan, T.K.H. (2021), "Online disinhibition: conceptualization, measurement, and implications for online deviant behavior", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 121 No. 1, pp. 48-64.



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