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Cyberpsychology is a developing field that encompasses all psychological phenomena that are associated with or affected by emerging technology. Cyber comes from the word cybernetics, the study of the operation of control and communication; psychology is the study of the mind and behavior.


Cyberpsychology is the study of the human mind and its behavior in the context of human interaction and communication of both man and machine, further expanding its bounds with the culture of computers and virtual reality that take place on the internet.[1] However, mainstream research studies seem to focus on the effect of the Internet and cyberspace on the psychology of individuals and groups. Some hot topics include: online identity, online relationships, personality types in cyberspace, transference to computers, addiction to computers and Internet, regressive behavior in cyberspace, online gender-switching, etc. Media Psychology is an emerging specialty and The Society for Media Psychology and Technology of the American Psychological Association, i.e., APA division 46 counts many psychologists working in this field among its members. In addition, the first MA/Ph.D program and Ed.D program in Media Psychology and Media Studies was launched by Bernard Luskin at Fielding Graduate University in 2002, now followed by an increasing number of new courses and programs in media psychology and media studies.

While statistical and theoretical research in this field is based around Internet usage, cyberpsychology also includes the study of the psychological ramifications of cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality amongst other things. Although some of these topics may appear to be the stuff of science fiction, they are quickly becoming science fact as evidenced by interdisciplinary approaches involving the fields of biology, engineering, and mathematics. The field of cyberpsychology remains open to refinement as well as new purposes including inquiry into the nature of current and future trends in mental illness associated with technological advances.

It was around the turn of the millennium that people in the United States broke the 50 percent mark in Internet use, personal computer use, and cell phone use. With such a broad exposure to computers and their displays, our perceptions go beyond objects and images in our natural environment and now includes the graphics and images on the computer screen. As the overlaps between man and machine expand, the relevance of Human-computer interaction (HCI) research within the field of cyberpsychology will become more visible and necessary in understanding the current modern lifestyles of many people. With the rising number of internet and computer users around the world, it is evident that computer technology's effects on the human psyche will continue to significantly shape both our interactions with each other and our perceptions of the world that is literally "at our fingertips." A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (2014)suggests that prevalence of internet addiction varies considerably between countries and is inversely related to quality of life. [2]


An MSc in Cyberpsychology is offered at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Ireland. IADT has a four-walled VLab (a CAVE type virtual reality system) which students can use in research projects.

An honors "Introduction to Psychology in the Digital Age" and "Cyberpsychology" are courses being offered at the University of Maryland, College Park by professor and author Kent Norman. The "cyberpsychology" course "explores traditional psychological processes in the rapidly changing world of computer and internet technologies. Students will address how the use of computers impacts many of the major topics in psychology." [3]

An honours-level 12-week "Cyberpsychology" blended-learning module is offered at Glasgow Caledonian University by Jane Guiller, lecturer in psychology. [1].

An honours-level 26-week CyberPsychology final year unit Social Psychology and Mediated Communication is offered at Bournemouth University by Dr Jacqui Taylor, Associate Professor in Psychology. This has been taught for over 15 years and uses online discussions and traditional lectures and interactive activities to enable students to experience many cyber-effects.[4]

Facebook and Cyberpsychology[edit]

Facebook, being the leading online social media platform on a global scale nowadays, has countless influences on users' psychological status. Facebook follows the pattern of one-to-many communication, which differs from sending private messages, allows users to share information about their lives, including social activities and photographs.[5] While Facebook users enjoy the sense of being connected, frequent use of Facebook are threatening users’ mental health. Low self-esteem, narcissism, depression, loneliness, and negative relationship are all possible consequences that caused by frequent use of Facebook. The briefed response through “like” and “dislike” button, exposing of personal life in public, and trying to maintain self-image are few reasons that can explain the psychological problem caused by using Facebook frequently.


Facebook is criticized for causing depression on users, especially on teenage users. A study hold by Michigan University proves that using Facebook frequently make people feel more depressed, and less confident. In this study, researchers observed 82 Facebook users during a two week period.[6] They found that the more time a person spends on Facebook, the more his or her feelings of well-being decrease and feelings of depression increase. UM social psychologist Ethan Kross who is the lead author of the study claims that the research is tracked moment-to-moment basis throughout the day how people's mood fluctuated depending on their Facebook usage, and no matter how they change the personality and behavior dimension such as frequency of Facebook use, the result keeps the same, which is the more someone uses Facebook, the worse mood he or she will get.[7]

Low Self-esteem[edit]

One of the reasons that may cause the depression is because Facebook user who checks friends' post frequently will find their life less satisfied. They tend to compare their life with their friends', and neglect the fact that their friends post best of their life and some are not even real. According to Alex Jordan who conducted a study at Stanford University, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, of 80 Facebook users, focusing on the number of positive and negative experience their peers were experiencing.[8] Through his research, he found out that Facebook users tend to amplify the happiness of their friends and reduce the sadness of friends’ life. By comparing with friend’s post of happiest and most joyful life, Facebook users have the sense of loser and eventually develop to low self-esteem status.


It is relative easy for someone to find hundreds of friends on Facebook, which seems incredibly hard to achieve in real life. However, Instead of seeing friends face to face, chatting with Facebook online who may be totally stranger doesn’t help to build friendship, instead they feel even lonelier. Geraint Rees, and his colleagues at the University College of London examined the fMRI brain scans of 125 frequent Facebook users and found out that the average friends on Facebook is 300, yet having more friends online did not significantly make particular regions of the brain larger or more active.[9] The research proves from a scientific perspective that more friends on Facebook does not mean more positive relationship which will function certain parts of brain more actively. Friends on Facebook are not the source of life motivation, since the research points out that we the number of friends has no direct influence on brain. Facebook use the “like” button as means of interaction, however, this interaction is too brief and does not show concern about the one who post on his or her Facebook wall. The brief interaction is one of the reasons that develops the feeling of loneliness.

Negative Relationship[edit]

Using Facebook frequently can even increases divorce and break-up rate and also increase the emotional and physical cheating rate. Couples tend to increase jealousy when see partners comment on different gendered people’s wall. To deal with the uncertainty of the romantic relationship, partner surveillance on Facebook becomes more popular. However, the skeptical attitude between couples may cause the end of relationship.Russell B. Clayton,1 Alexander Nagurney and Jessica R. Smith hold a survey of 205 Facebook users aged 18–82 was conducted using a 16-question online survey to examine whether high levels of Facebook use predicted negative relationship outcomes.[10] The result of the study indicates that individuals who are currently in a relationship of 3 years or less are more likely to experience negative relationship outcomes, which means short period relationship and any other non-matured relationship may be easily destroyed by Facebook.

Psychotherapy in Cyberspace[edit]

Psychotherapy in Cyberspace, also known as cybertherapy[11] or e-therapy, is a controversial matter with a history of doubts related to efficiency, validity and effectiveness. In the most common computer-mediated form of counseling a person e-mails or chats online with a therapist [See online counseling]. E-therapy may be particularly effective when conducted via video conferencing, as important cues such as facial expression and body language may be conveyed albeit in a less present way. At the same time, there are new applications of technology within psychology and healthcare which utilize augmented and virtual reality components—for example in pain management treatment, PTSD treatment, use of avatars in virtual environments, and self- and clinician-guided computerized cognitive behavior therapies [ See Technology and Psychology 2011. The voluminous work of Azy Barak[12] (University of Haifa) and a growing number of researchers in the US and UK gives strong evidence to the efficacy (and sometimes superiority) of Internet-facilitated, computer-assisted treatments relative to 'traditional' in-office-only approaches. The UK's National Health Service now recognizes CCBT (computerized cognitive behavioral therapy) as the preferred method of treatment for mild-to-moderate presentations of anxiety and depression [ See August 2011 presentation by Kate Cavanaugh, author of "Hands on Help". Applications in psychology and medicine also include such innovations as the "Virtual Patient" and other virtual/augmented reality programs which can provide trainees with simulated intake sessions while also providing a means for supplementing clinical supervision.

Many of the current controversies related to e-therapy have arisen in the context of ethical guidelines and considerations.[13] In the U.S. there are special circumstances which impact widespread online services among licensed health/mental health professionals given that each of 50 states has their own licensing and regulatory systems, and for most professions practitioners are limited to practicing 'within their state', with the recipient's location determining 'where the service is received' and spurring ongoing debate about restricted access and antiquity of the license system. But the applications and research expand at a rapid rate, and areas of research, practice, and education within the world of 'psychotherapy' have been exploding - especially with all of the research and experience demonstrating the value of technology/Internet assisted applications.

References In Popular Culture[edit]

  • Lisa Kudrow's web-based situation comedy Web Therapy, in which Kudrow's unaccredited and unscrupulous character Fiona Wallice conducts therapy sessions using iChat, explores many of the ethical and practical issues raised by the prospect of psychotherapy conducted via Internet video chat.[14]
  • Patricia Arquette recurs as FBI Special Agent in Charge Avery Ryan, a Cyber-Psychologist, in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. She also headlines CSI: Cyber in the same role.


  • The Psychology of Cyberspace by Dr. John Suler
  • [2]
  • Gordo-López, J. & Parker, I. (1999). Cyberpsychology. New York: Routledge.
  • Wallace, P. M. (1998). The Psychology of the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Whittle, D. B. (1997). Cyberspace: The human dimension. New York: W.H. Freeman.




  1. ^ Blascovich, Jim; Bailenson, Jeremy. Infinite reality : avatars, eternal life, new worlds, and the dawn of the virtual revolution (1st ed.). New York: William Morrow. ISBN 0061809500. 
  2. ^ Cheng Cecilia and Li Angel Yee-lam. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. December 2014, 17(12): 755-760. http://dx.doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0317.
  3. ^ "Spring 2012 Schedule of Classes". Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Pempek; Yermolayeva; Calvert. College students’social networking experiences on Facebook 30:2 (2009). 
  6. ^ Savastio, Rebecca. "Facebook Cause Depression New Study Says". Liberty Voie. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Westerholm, Russell. "Facebook Use Bad For Self-Esteem No Matter Why You Log On". Universityherald. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Share Doc". Share Doc. 
  9. ^ Williams, Ray. "Is Facebook Good Or Bad For Your Self-Esteem?". psychology Today. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Ann Liebert, Mary (2012-04-24). "CYBERPSYCHOLOGY, BEHAVIOR, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING" 16. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Barak, A., & Suler, J. (2008). Reflections on the psychology and social science of cyberspace. In A. Barak & J. Suler (Eds.), Psychological aspects of cyberspace: Theory, Research, Applications (pp. 1–12). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from
  13. ^ John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace -Psychotherapy in Cyberspace
  14. ^ Web Therapy