خیانت آنلاین در اتاق های چت اینترنت: اکتشاف قوم نگاری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|36484||2007||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||11160 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 23, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 11–31
Internet chat rooms have introduced unprecedented dynamics into marital relationships: never in history has it been so easy to enjoy both the stability of marriage and the thrills of the dating scene at the same time. This study examined the phenomenon of online infidelity in chat rooms, a process whereby individuals involved in a long-term committed relationship seek computer synchronous, interactive contact with opposite-sex members. The following factors were investigated: (a) what elements and dynamics online infidelity involves and how it happens; (b) what leads individuals specifically to the computer to search for a relationship “on the side”; (c) whether individuals consider online contacts as infidelity and why or why not; and (e) what dynamics chat room users experience in their marriages. The results revealed three theoretical constructs that represent married individuals’ chat room experiences. The first construct, Anonymous Sexual Interactionism, refers to these individuals’ predilection for anonymous interactions of a sexual nature in chat rooms. The allure of anonymity gains extra importance for married individuals, who can enjoy relative safety to express fantasies and desires without being known or exposed. The second, Behavioral Rationalization, denotes the reasoning that chat room users present for conceiving their online behaviors’ as innocent and harmless (despite the secrecy and highly sexual nature). The third, Effortless Avoidance, involves chat room users’ avoidance of psychological discomfort by exchanging sexual messages with strangers. Happily married individuals also join such rooms, a trend that is also discussed. Together, these constructs symbolize chat room dynamics and serve as a foundation upon which further studies can build.
Internet population around the world has grown exceptionally fast in less than a decade, rising from 16 million users in 1995 to approximately 680 million in late 2003 (Global Internet Statistics, 2003). Millions of such users are married individuals who use the Internet to meet strangers, flirt, and many times engage in highly sexualized conversations. In fact, Internet chat rooms have introduced unprecedented dynamics into marital relationships: never before has it been so easy to enjoy both the stability of marriage and the thrills of the dating scene at the same time. This phenomenon has become commonplace (Adamse and Motta, 2000, Gwinnell, 1998, Maheu and Subotnik, 2001 and Young et al., 2000); at any time of the day or night, married individuals can be found in all types of chat rooms, ranging from apparently “innocent” ones (e.g., those grouped by age or location) to those geared specifically for married people (e.g., Yahoo’s Married And Flirting; MSN’s Married But Flirting chat rooms). 1 If individuals possess a camera, they can see and/or be seen by their virtual partners; in many chat rooms, the viewing is live, in real time, while the conversation is taking place. Other actions such as viewing Internet pornography conceivably may be categorized as “online infidelity” by some researchers (e.g., Maheu & Subotnik, 2001), but the present study focuses exclusively on chat rooms. The emphasis is on the process whereby individuals already involved in a committed relationship seek to be involved in computer synchronous, interactive contacts with opposite-sex members. Such contacts may be restricted to the computer only (i.e., a cyber-affair); alternatively, they may blossom into a real-life affair (a cyber-affair is defined as any chat room contact that the individual feels must be kept hidden from the spouse due to its sexual and/or emotional nature). This study is limited to heterosexual relationships only. There is much popular debate about whether or not chat room contacts should be classified as “infidelity.” The present work defines it as such based on three factors. First, in Western culture (the background of this study), marriage is grounded within a powerful moral/cultural code where sexual – as well as emotional – exclusivity is steadily expected, if not required. This expectation or requirement is powerfully endorsed by public opinion; the cultural institution of marriage presupposes monogamy, faithfulness in actions and in spirit, and unequivocal honesty with one’s spouse. Thus, flirting and/or becoming sexual with potentially compatible strangers while married is usually considered unacceptable within the boundaries of the moral, ethical, cultural, political, and religious codes governing the institution of marriage (there are exceptions: for example, some religious leaders consider online flirting as acceptable for married individuals – see Russell, 2003). Second, online infidelity typically occurs in secrecy, outside the primary spouse’s awareness. Even if the extramarital contact remains exclusively restricted to the computer (i.e., virtual partners never meet in person), it remains hidden in the overwhelming majority of cases. Thus, not only do online behaviors carry a “forbidden” quality; they also require lying to the partner and omitting the truth. Partners channel sexual and/or emotional energy outwards and keep this part of themselves and their lives outside the spouse’s cognizance by sneaking around and searching for opportunities to have a lively or “hot” chat. (In cases where chat room activities are not hidden from one’s spouse, this definition does not apply.) The categorization as “infidelity” is also grounded in the fact that most spouses feel as – or nearly as – betrayed, angry, and hurt by online infidelity as they would if skin-to-skin adultery had taken place (Maheu and Subotnik, 2001 and Schneider, 2002). In other words, the consequential nature of chat room liaisons and the breach of trust it can create substantiate their classification as infidelity. It has been reported that one-third of divorce litigation is due to online affairs (Infidelity check, 2002), a trend that will conceivably grow as Internet usage becomes more and more widespread. However, the present study makes no causal links between online infidelity and marital breakdown. It was not designed to establish causation or any correlation between these factors; rather, the design focused exclusively on revealing participants’ activities online and their perceptions about them, as indicated in the research questions below. The research questions in the present study were: (a) What elements and dynamics does online infidelity involve and how does it happen? (b) What leads married individuals specifically to the computer to search for a relationship “on the side”? (c) Do married individuals consider their online contacts as infidelity? Why or why not? and (e) What dynamics do chat room users experience in their marriages? These questions were analyzed within a qualitative methodology framework because research on the specific topic of online infidelity in chat rooms is still scarce (such methodology is best suited for exploratory studies such as this one – Creswell, 1994). Studies have addressed the nature of chat room communication (e.g., Rollman, Krug, & Parente, 2000); the development of online relationships (e.g., McCown et al., 2001, Whitty, 2002 and Whitty and Gavin, 2001); and sexuality in cyberspace (e.g., Cooper et al., 2000, Cooper and Sportolari, 1997 and Schnarch, 1997), among others. Yet, online infidelity in chat rooms remains an under-explored topic within the body of Internet-based research: there are few studies available (see review of literature below) and there is a glaring absence of academic, data-driven, in-depth explorations. Unfaithfulness that does not require physical contact, cybersex, and cyber-emotional contact are still relatively novel concepts: for example, despite a decade of exploration, there is no “official” definition of cybersex. Definitions vary widely from researcher to researcher and among the general public as well. The same is valid for online infidelity, which can be considered as any type of computer-mediated sexual activity (e.g., Internet pornography, chat rooms, and so forth) in which a married person engages. This overlooks basic distinctions such as the nature of chat room contacts, which are live and interactive – thus contrasting with the viewing of pornographic pictures, which does not necessarily have an interactive component. Add to that those chat rooms in which it is possible to see one’s virtual partner live (via camera) or any website where sexual acts can be viewed and the blurring of definitions becomes more intense. The results of this study revealed three theoretical constructs that represent the experiences of married chat room users: (a) Anonymous Sexual Interactionism, (b) Behavioral Rationalization, and (c) Effortless Avoidance. Each construct is explained below and is thoroughly illustrated with data collected from in-depth interviews with research participants.