Volume 11

Perceptions of Preferred Social Environments: The Impact of Interpersonal Style on Individuals’ Motivation to Initiate Internet Relationships

Andrea Bianchi

This study was designed to examine the impact of interpersonal interaction style, introversion and social anxiety, on individuals’ motivation to socialize and initiate interpersonal relationships on the internet. Participants included 120 adults, ages 18 to 69 (mean age 24), 68% of whom were women and 90% Caucasian. To assess perceptions of the internet as a preferred social environment, participants were randomly assigned to reading one of four scenarios. Within the four scenarios, characters’ levels of introversion and social anxiety were manipulated. Results showed a perceived internet social environment preference for introverts with and without social anxiety as well as socially anxious extroverts. A perceived face-to-face social environment preference for non-socially anxious extroverts was also indicated. Use of the internet social environment as a tool to facilitate subsequent face-to-face interpersonal relationships is discussed.

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