• Disclosure Involving a Third-Party: Reciprocity and Liking Outcomes

      Cotterell, Keith (2011-09-19)
      This investigation examines the function of third-party disclosures on reciprocal self-disclosures and liking. Sixty-eight college students engaged in a social interaction with one or two computers. In the experiment, one computer would “disclose” information either about itself or about another computer (third-party). Each disclosure was followed by a question to the participant. Questions were asked either by the discloser or by third-party to assess reciprocation of disclosures. Afterwards, participants rated liking for the two computers-as-social-actors. Participants showed a tendency to disclose more (i.e., give longer responses) to an actor who disclosed to them, regardless of whether the disclosure was about the self- or about a third-party (though intimacy of the disclosures was not different). Participants did not disclose more to the third-party whom they heard disclosures about. Liking was unaffected by the disclosures. These results suggest that positive social benefits may be gained by disclosing about another in the place of oneself. Having another individual disclose about oneself, did not elicit of the same social benefits. Implications are discussed about the nature of disclosures and relationship formation.