An experimental test of the effects of online and face-to-face feedback on self-esteem

Helen G. M. Vossen, Maria Koutamanis, Joseph B. Walther


This study investigated the effect of receiving confirming vs. disconfirming feedback to individuals’ self-disclosure on their self-esteem, the role of giving reciprocal feedback in this relationship, and how these effects differ between online and face-to-face communication. Using a two (communication mode: online vs. face-to-face) by two (feedback valence: confirming vs. disconfirming) between-subjects experiment, we found that feedback had a significant indirect effect on self-esteem, through the receiver’s reciprocal feedback. This indirect effect of feedback differed in online communication from offline: In online communication, participants reciprocated negative feedback when they received it, more than in face-to-face communication. The reciprocal feedback enhanced their self-esteem in online communication, but not in face-to-face communication. Although people tend to respond more negatively to negative comments in online conversations, the process, overall, boosts rather than hinders their self-esteem.

Bibliographic citation

Vossen, H. G., Koutamanis, M., & Walther, J. B. (2017). An experimental test of the effects of online and face-to-face feedback on self-esteem. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 11(4), article 1. doi:


Online communication; feedback; self-esteem; reciprocal feedback, online self-disclosure

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