This won't come as a surprise to, well, anyone who has spent considerable time on the Web, but a new study found that people act much differently online than offline.
According to eMarketer, which published the report on Monday, "cyberdisinhibition" has caused many Web users to behave much differently online than they would in a typical offline setting. In fact, the market-research firm, which cites findings from Euro RSCG Worldwide, says 43 percent of U.S.-based Web users feel less inhibited online. It also found that "the effect is most prominent among females and users ages 25 to 54."
Of course, being less inhibited online can lead to both positive and negative behaviors. The research firm found that the Web helps 55.6 percent of men and 51.4 percent of women feel more "able to to meet new people." Users are also using the Web to "be empowered to do something they wanted to." The study found that 33.9 percent of male respondents and 29.2 percent of female respondents do things on the Web that they might not otherwise feel able to do offline.
That said, Web users are also more likely to take a company or brand to task online than they would in person. The study found that 24.4 percent of male respondents have "lashed out" at companies on the Internet. Women did it a little less with about 15.8 percent of respondents saying that they had lashed out.
eMarketer's report also highlighted an interesting change in the way people prefer to communicate. A whopping 48.7 percent of respondents said they find electronic communication far more convenient than communicating with others in a face-to-face setting.
From a social perspective, 57.6 percent of respondents said they disagree with the assertion that "online socializing is for sad, antisocial types." Phew. That's how I communicate these days.