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Behaviors exhibited while online differ radically from behaviors exhibited while offline (Suler, 2004). Research suggests that this difference in behaviors results from online disinhibition (OD) while engaging in computer-mediated communication (CMC) (Suler, 2004). One way that OD may influence behaviors is through its impact on disinhibited online flirting. Flirting outside of a dyadic romantic relationship was found to have a detrimental impact on romantic relationships (Kalbfleisch, 1993). Due to this finding and the immense use of internet among college students the first goal of this research is to provide a basis of information on the amount of online flirting, how online flirting occurs, and the impact of online flirting among college-age students. The second goal of this research will be to understand participants' perception of how detrimental the impact of online flirting would be on their romantic relationship compared to offline flirting. Based upon previous research on this topic, our main prediction is that online flirting will be perceived to have a lowered level of detriment to a romantic relationship versus offline flirting due to an informal understanding of disinhibited online behavior that results from personal internet use. This study will also be assessing the impact of public versus private online flirting on a romantic relationship. Based upon previous research, we are predicting that public online flirting, such as flirting through a Facebook wall post, will lead to a lower perception of detriment on a romantic relationship than private flirting, through a private message. Overall, this study will attempt to fill the void in research devoted to online behaviors and help in understanding of the effects of online flirting and how it differs in its impact on romantic relationships compared to offline flirting.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Lee J. Dixon

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

A Proposed Study of Online Flirting