The Psychology of Cyberspace

The Classic Text

John Suler, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology

Science and Technology Center
Rider University


This hypertext book explores the psychological aspects of environments created by computers and computer networks: what I call "the psychology of cyberspace" - or simply "cyberpsychology." Revised and expanded over time, this book originally was created in January of 1996. In 2016 I published with Cambridge University Press Psychology of the Digital Age: Humans Become Electric, where I describe what I learned from twenty years of cyberpsychology research, leading to a transdisciplipsychology of the digital age: humans become electricnary theory of "cyberpsychology architecture."

My recent work also focuses on a specific area of cyberpsychology that I call photographic psychology: the study of how people create, share, and react to images in the age of digital technology and cyberspace. That link leads to my online book about that topic.

In order to make these readings accessible to as many people as possible, I have written them in a style that is not overly abstract or technical. Important concepts in psychology and psychodynamic theory appear throughout the book, but I try to present them in an "experience-near" rather than "experience-distant" way that I hope makes them useful in understanding everyday living in cyberspace. The emphasis is on practical concepts rather than purely academic ones. Other versions of these articles appear in various professional journals. These publications are indicated within the articles and in the article index.

Below is the table of contents for the seven major sections in this book. Clicking on a bullet will produce a pop-up window containing an abstract of the article in that section. To use this feature, you may need to turn off any pop-up blockers in your browser. All links on this home page produce a new window that is placed on top of this page. The graphic that appears to the right of each of the seven sections below is a link to the part of the overview article that summarizes the articles within that section.

Recently I revised the appearance of some of the pages in this book. If you browse these articles, you'll notice a difference between an "old school" web design to a more contemporary one, although I am deliberately retaining some of the look and feel of the way the Internet used to be. This is, after all, the "classic text."

My blog at Cambridge University Press.

Teaching a course on cyberpsychology (includes syllabus, student exercises, powerpoint slides)

The First Decade of CyberPsychology (1996-2006): My observations on the 10th anniversary of this online book.


1. The Basic Psychological Qualities of Cyberspace

Cyberspace as a psychological space
Basic psychological features of cyberspace
Networks as "mind" and "self"
The online disinhibition effect
Psychology of avatars and graphical space
Cyberspace as dream world
Two Paths of Virtual Reality
The black hole of cyberspace
Online lingo
Internet demographics
Cyberspace humor
Coping with spam

cyberpsychology architecture

2. The Psychology of the Individual in Cyberspace

Identity managment in cyberspace
Personality types in cyberspace
Unique roles in cyberspace
Transference to computers and cyberspace
Addiction to computers and cyberspace
Regressive behavior in cyberspace
Online gender-switching
Adolescents in cyberspace
Wizards: The heart of an online community
On being a "god"
Y2K and apocalyptic thinking
Integrating online and offline living
eQuest: An online psychoeducational program
Media transitions

3. The Psychology of Cyberspace Relationships

In-person versus cyberspace relationships
Transient and long term online relationships
The psychology of text relationships
Hypotheses about online text relationships
E-mail communication and relationships
Transference among people online
How to resolve conflict online
Cyberspace romances
Subtlety in multimedia chat

4. Group Dynamics in Cyberspace

Social psychology of online groups
Developmental stages of mailing lists
Making virtual communities work
Early history of an online community
Wizards: The heart of an online community
Therapy and support groups in cyberspace
Unique groups in cyberspace
TextTalk: Communicating with typed text chat
A decision-making method for e-mail groups
Extending a work group into cyberspace
Using discussion boards in teaching
Group games using avatars
Geezer Brigade: Studying an online group
Managing deviant behavior in online groups
Online photo-sharing communities (flickr)

5. Research Methods in Cyberpsychology

Publishing online
Case studies of digital life forms
One of Us: Participant observation research
Steps in studying an online group
Ethics in cyberspace research
Studying full cyberspace immersion


6. Life at the Palace

This section of The Psychology of Cyberspace contains a collection of articles about my intensive case study of the online multimedia community known as the "Palace." The Palace is a visual and spatial environment where members interact with text, sounds, and graphical representations of themselves called "avatars." It also contains an article about Second Life.


7. Psychotherapy and Clinical Work in Cyberspace

This section contains articles that cover a range of topics, including: a conceptual model for conducting clinical work in cyberspace; online clinical case study groups; clinical work in online communities; avatar psychotherapy; computerized psychotherapy; legal and ethical issues. For those who are interested in rounding out their education about psychotherapy in cyberspace, this section also contains a list of suggested readings in the Psychology of Cyberspace and elsewhere on the web.


8. Conclusion: The 8 Dimensions of Cyberspace



Article and Page Index
a list of the articles on this site
by date of publication/revision

Subject Index

alphabetized list of subjects
and terms appearing in the articles

The Collected Works
of John Suler

IMAGES about Psychology and Technology

Here's a collection of images that portray a variety of issues concerning the psychology of social media, the internet, and technology in general. Some of the images are humorous, others illustrate important concepts in cyberpsychology.