Negative self-disclosure on the web: The role of guilt relief

Liat Levontin, Elad Yom-Tov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we suggest people use anonymous online forums as platforms for self-disclosing actions they feel guilty about-such as transgressions and unethical behaviors-with the goal of achieving guilt relief through others' reactions. We support this proposition by analyzing field data extracted from Yahoo Answers, an online question-and-answer website. Our analysis shows the level of guilt relief an answer is expected to offer the "asker" (the self-disclosing person) is positively associated with the asker's likelihood of selecting that answer as the "best" response to the self-disclosure. Furthermore, following receipt of a guilt-relieving answer, an asker becomes less likely to engage in prosocial behavior, which is another type of guilt-relieving action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1068
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2017


  • Guilt
  • Guilt relief
  • Online forums
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Self-disclosure

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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