Psyber Psychology: A Literature Review Pertaining to The Psycho/Social Aspects of Multi-User Dimensions in Cyperspace

James Sempsey III
Temple University


The history and development of virtual groups are briefly explained, with a particular emphasis placed upon the evolution of MUD environments. The current state of research in this area (gathered from multiple disciplines) is examined and the various emergent psycho/social phenomena of MUD interaction are identified and examined. The need for a coherent approach to the study of on-line interaction is demonstrated and possible need for a new field of social science, "Psyber Psychology/Cyberology" is proposed.


The evolution of humanity can be viewed in terms of its invention and sociological assimilation of new technologies (Burke, 1985). The most overtly influential technological advances seem to be those that directly effect our means of communication (Bagdikian, 1983; Cutler, 1994). Indeed, one does not have to possess a Ph.D. in the social sciences to recognize the magnitude of psychological and sociological change that has been brought about by inventions such as radio, television, and the VCR. In many ways we are a telecommunications culture (Anderson, 1990).

At this point in history, it appears that we are again about to embrace a new and globally pervasive information technology; one that can be considered as a quantum leap beyond its predecessors in many respects. This new technology comes in the form of an international computing/telecommunications network known as the INTERNET, and it may potentially have as significant an impact upon human culture as did the invention of the printing press (Dertouzos, 1991; Stock, 1993).

The precursor to the INTERNET was created in 1969 by an arm of the U.S. Defense Department called the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA). This computer network, which eventually came to be known as ARPANET, was primarily designed as a means for Defense-sponsored researchers to operate different computers at a distance (Rheingold, 1993; Canter & Siegal, 1994); the computer conferencing capabilities and subsequent social aspects of the network emerged as a byproduct of its operation (Rheingold, 1993; Metz, 1994). The network was purposefully intended to be decentralized so that, in the event of a nuclear attack, it would be practically impossible to shut down (Rheingold, 1993; LaQuey & Ryer, 1993). It is due to this design that the present day INTERNET is said to be beyond the control of any particular agency; no one has the power to censor or shut down its operation (Rheingold, 1993; Elmer-Dewitt, 1994).

Initially there were only four sites connected via the network. By 1971 there were about 24, and by 1981 there were more than 200 sites on-line (LaQuey & Ryer, 1993; Bordia, 1994). Today it is estimated that there are over 60 million people connected to the INTERNET, with usage increasing approximately 10% per month, and the number of new applications and services growing almost as quickly (Glover & Redshaw, 1996). Along with this explosion there is emerging a new set of subcultural phenomena which is loosely referred to as cyberculture (Rucker, Sirius, & Mu, 1992; Elmer-Dewitt, 1993; Hamit, 1993; Barlow, 1995). Though some research has been conducted concerning the nature of this emergent culture, the mainstream of social scientists has paid it little attention, or failed to notice its arrival altogether (Roush, 1993; Rheingold, 1993). Most of the existing literature centers on issues pertaining to computer conferencing (Metz, 1994; Bordia 1994; Brown, 1995). However, computer conferencing is merely one aspect of computer mediated communication (CMC). One such neglected domain of CMC, though argued by some to be the most indicative of cyberculture (Bruckman, 1992; Carlstrom, 1992; Roush, 1993; Cherney, 1994; Reid, 1994; Snell, 1994) is that known as the Multi-User Dimension (MUD).

A MUD is a network-accessible, multi-participant, user-extensible virtual reality which is primarily text-based (Bruckman, 1992; Curtis & Nichols, 1993, Cassidy, 1994). Typically, the term "virtual reality" refers to computer simulated environments which possess varying degrees of audio/visual interface, and although some experimental MUDs do offer AV components, this form of virtual reality is essentially text-based. As Elizabeth Reid describes:

        Using a MUD does not require any of the paraphernalia commonly
        associated with virtual reality.  There is no special hardware
        to sense the position and orientation of the user's real-world
        body, and no special clothes allowing users to see the virtual
        world through goggles and touch it through 'datagloves'......
        Instead of using sophisticated tools to see, touch and hear the
        virtual environment, users of MUD systems are presented with
        textual descriptions of virtual locations.  Technically, a MUD
        software program consists of a database of 'rooms', 'exits' and
        other objects.  The program accepts connections from users on a
        computer network, and provides each user with access to that
        database.... Within each of these systems users can interact
        with each other and with the virtual environment which the MUD
        presents to them. (Reid, 1994)

The name "MUD" first appeared in 1978 when a student named Roy Trubshaw at the University of Essex, England, created a program that he called a "Multi-User Dungeon" (Reid, 1994). It was a multi-user adventure game loosely based upon the popular game known as "Dungeons and Dragons". In this fantasy adventure, players were encouraged to compete with each other for points by going on quests to slay monsters or find treasure. All players started out on an equal footing, but after having accumulated a certain number of points a player could advance his rank, thus granting him access to new and greater powers. This eventually lead to a sort of social hierarchy which spanned from "Newbies" (new players) though various intermediate levels, and culminating in attainment of the title "Wizard".

From this fantasy-adventure based beginning, MUDs have since proliferated and diversified so that at present one can find hundreds of MUDs throughout the INTERNET, many of which have been put to uses other than merely recreation. To reflect this evolution, the acronym MUD has come to stand for Multi-User Dimension or Multi-User Domain as well as the original Multi-User Dungeon. Additionally, the term MUD has differentiated into various sub-types such as MOO, MUSH, MUSE, MUCK, DUM, etc.... Each of these acronyms is intended to indicate, though with quite a degree of overlap, the multiple environmental conditions and purposes of each community (Carlstrom, 1992; Rosenburg, 1992; Reid, 1994).

However, the term MUD is typically used as the overarching term to refer to all of these variants.

MUD environments have been created to serve such diverse purposes and populations as: NASA/JPL astronomers (Astro-VR), biology researchers (BioMOO), K-12 student education (MicroMUSE), virtual university campus (DU-MOO), star trek fantasy role playing (TrekMUSE), literary and cultural theorists (PmcMOO), media researchers (MediaMOO) and hundreds of others. At present, the number of and potential uses for MUDs appears to be far from exhausted. Though exact statistics concerning the number of existing MUDs and MUD populations are unavailable, it is estimated that the current number of sites is between 300 and 500, with a population that seems to be growing exponentially (Rheingold, 1993; Burka, 1993).

It is this researcher's opinion, as well as the opinion of many that are intimately involved with the evolution of the INTERNET, that MUDs constitute a rapidly growing and increasingly vital aspect of cybercultural phenomena. The purpose of this paper is to to review the literature pertaining to the psychological and social aspects of MUDs in an attempt to ascertain the current state of knowledge on this subject and hopefully determine some possibilities for new research directions.


Not all MUDs are alike, but they do share certain overarching characteristics. Before delving into the specific psycho/social issues pertaining to these environments, it may be useful to first attempt a clarification of the context in which such phenomena occur.

It is generally speculated that computers and computer networks will transform (are transforming) the ways in which society functions (Burke, 1985; Brand, 1987; Dertouzos, 1991, Wilson, 1992; Miller, 1992). These changes are occurring on multiple levels, effecting our modes of production (Canter & Siegal, 1994; Cortese, Verity, Mitchell, & Brandt, 1995), our modes of learning, (Ehlers, 1994; Kinslow & Sempsey, 1995), and even the ways in which we socialize (Rheingold, 1993; Kennedy, 1994). There is even evidence to suggest that use of interactive multimedia actually alters ones neurological configuration (Gardner, 1985; Simpson, 1994), and a preliminary draft of the DSM-V includes a section delineating newly emerging "Cyber Disorders" (Zenhausen, 1995). All of this becomes pertinent to the study of MUDs when one considers the unique situation in which MUDers find themselves. They are literally in two places at once, the "real-world" and the "virtual world". Where the boundaries and influences of one begins and the other ends is not at all clear. As Elizabeth Reid reports:

        Within this ambivalent virtual space, notions of human identity
        and existence are problematised.  MUD characters have no
        actuality, only virtuality.  They are never immutable.  MUD
        characters are not fixed, and they are always in the process of
        redefinition.  They are cyborgs - entities made up of ones and
        zeroes and imagination, without bodies and without physical
        restrictions in the virtuality they inhabit. ....The objects in
        MUD universes are treated as if they had the properties of the
        everyday counterparts.  Houses are lived in, roses are smelt,
        food can be eaten and other players can be kissed. ...Such
        technology is a device which mediates between the physical and
        the imagined.  It is an interface between the imagined world
        and the world of the body.  ...It is in the spaces between the
        body and the self that cyborgs exist (Reid, 1994).

To further complicate matters, there are often great distinctions between various MUD environments. In the real-world one does have to contend with different types of social and environmental conditions to an extent, but at least one can be fairly certain of a multitude of constants (for instance, there are no dragons in the real-world and the laws of gravity are always in effect). But as Eve-Lise Carlstrom points out:

        ...on entering a new MUD for the first time, it is reasonable
        to ask about what commands can be used, how objects are
        defined, what one can change about one's character, etc.  This
        is roughly equivalent to arriving in a new country and
        inquiring about the laws of physics.  It is commonly said that
        speakers of a language construct reality by doing so.  In a MUD
        it is literally true that "reality" is created through language
        both by the actions of the players and through the code used by
        the programmers (Carlstrom, 1992).

However, there are certain characteristics of MUDs that can be said to remain constant and help to distinguish them from both real-life and other forms of computer simulations. Pavel Curtis has identified three major factors that help to clarify the differences between MUDs and Adventure-style computer games:

        1) A MUD is not goal oriented; it has no beginning or end, no
        'score', and no notion of 'winning' or 'success'.  In short,
        even though users of MUDs are are commonly called players, a
        MUD really isn't a game at all.

        2) A MUD is extensible from within; a user can add new objects
        to the database such as rooms, exits, 'things', and notes.
        Certain MUDs, including the one I run, even support an embedded
        programming language in which a user can describe whole new
        kinds of behavior for the objects they create.

        3) A MUD generally has more than one user connected at a time.
        All of the connected users are browsing and manipulating the
        same database and can encounter the new objects created by
        others.  The multiple users on a MUD can communicate with each
        other in real time (Curtis & Nichols, 1993).

Concerning the factors which are unique to MUD environments as opposed to real life - the following can be said to be generally characteristic of them all:

        1) They are primarily text-based.  Although some MUDs contain a
        certain degree of visual elements (such as ASCII maps) and a
        very few support some form of graphic user interface, they are
        all more or less dependent upon the written word (Bruckman, 1992; 
        Curtis & Nichols, 1993; Barrett & Wallace, 1994).

        2) There is no physicality in a MUD.  One may possess a virtual
        body, but it and everything else in the MUD exists as a mere
        description (Serpentelli, 1993; Escobar, 1994).

        3) The proximics are undetermined.  Due to the lack of
        physicality, there can be no   true spacing of characters in a
        MUD room.  Everyone is simply present, and there can be no
        limit to the number of people inside of a given space.
        Proximics may however, be implied by the use of emote commands
        (e.g. Fred sits next to Joe) or through use of furniture or
        other objects (e.g. Fred stands on the coffee table)
        (Carlstrom, 1992).

        4) Users can indulge in multiple yet simultaneous activities
        and conversations.  Due to the nature of the medium there is a
        varying amount of lag time between player's responses.
        Therefore, they will often indulge in, and be able to keep
        track of several separate conversations at a time without the
        confusion and noise that would normally result from such
        activity in the real world (Carlstrom, 1992; Curtis & Nichols, 1993).

The above list is not meant to be exhaustive; there are many more distinctions to be made between MUDs and real life environments. Likewise, it can be said that MUDs share many more characteristics than those I've identified. However, this list should serve as a framework within which to consider the more detailed findings concerning the psycho/social aspects of MUDs.



It appears to be generally accepted that individuals are less inhibited when interacting in MUDs than they might be in real life circumstances (Bruckman, 1992; Carlstrom, 1992; Curtis, 1992; Roush, 1993; Elmer-Dewitt, 1993; Penkoff, 1994; Snell, 1994), and there is evidence to suggest that such disinhibition is characteristic of CMC in general (Kiesler, Siegal, & McGuire, 1984; Turkle, 1984; Serpentelli, 1993; Odegard, 1993; Bordia, 1994; Brown, 1995). It has been postulated that this phenomenon may be attributable to the lack of regulating social context cues (e.g. body language, tone of voice, etc..) and that the lack of such cues are read as an obscuring of the boundaries which delineate the forms of behavior which are deemed acceptable or unacceptable (Kiesler, Siegal, & McGuire, 1984). However, other researchers have attributed this phenomenon to such causes as real life anonymity (Cutler, 1994; Barrett & Wallace, 1994; Escobar, 1994) and immunity from physical reprisal (Serpentelli, 1993; Rheingold, 1993). All of these conclusions are based upon the concept of limited bandwidth as contributing to such behavior. However, evidence is beginning to accrue from observations of experimental high bandwidth systems suggesting that even with full audio/visual interface (which one would assume to mitigate the dramaturgical shortcomings and degree of anonymity) disinhibition in CMC remains quite high (Marshall, 1993).

It should be noted however, that disinhibition is not necessarily always negative in these settings (e.g. flaming, player killing, spamming, etc..) or that such behavior is somehow abhorrent given certain contexts (Bartle, 1996). In addition, there appears to be just as much "positive" disinhibition (e.g. newbie mentoring, tinysex, whuggles, etc..). For example, Reid argues that disinhibition does not necessarily indicate some sort of "flaw" in MUD culture or that MUD environments are "lawless and socially chaotic":

        ...being disinhibited is not the same as being uninhibited. MUD
        players experience a lowering of social inhibitions; they do
        not experience the annihilation of them.  The social
        environments found on MUDs are not chaotic, or even anarchic.
        There is indeed no moment on a MUD in which players are not
        enmeshed within a web of social rules and expectations.
        ....However, these webs of meaning and control are not as
        immediately apparent on MUDs as they might be in actual life.
        Substitutes for the contexts and atmospheres that we rely on to
        regulate and define our behavior may have been developed on
        Muds, but it takes time for players to learn to recognize and
        to adopt these substitutes (Reid, 1994).


Another finding, related to the issue of disinhibition, is that men and women appear to behave differently from one another within MUD environments. In a study conducted by Diane Penkoff (1994), it was noted that both the types and frequency of graphic accents (emoticons & articons) correlated with player gender, with men being less prone to utilize such devices than women. However, it did not appear that there was a significant difference in the rate or degree of flaming. She proposes that this tendency for women to be more challenging in CMC groups as compared to face-to-face interactions may be due to women feeling more at ease in CMC because of the relative anonymity, or that it may be that the women engaged in CMC might already be involved in male-dominated endeavors such as high tech. organizations or academia (Penkoff, 1994). It should be noted that Penkoff's study, though informative, was conducted using data from newsgroups which are asynchronous forms of CMC. Since MUD interaction is essentially synchronous, these findings have to be considered with this distinction in mind.

Lynn Cherney's study of MUD interaction, when considered in conjunction with Penkoff's findings, seems to support the notion that indeed gender differences do persist across both synchronous and asynchronous forms of CMC. Cherney found that women are 4 times as likely to initiate whuggles than are men, that men tend to use more physically violent imagery, and that women are overall more affectionate towards other characters (Cherney, 1994).


One factor that complicates gender related research in such environments is that, due to the anonymity of the medium, one can never be certain of the sex of a respondent. Amy Bruckman has studied the phenomenon of gender swapping in MUDs wherein individuals adopt an identity of the opposite sex. She has found that this is a fairly common practice, though it is not indicative of real-life homosexuality or transvestism (Bruckman, 1992). Gender switching has been documented by other researchers as well (Curtis, 1992; Serpentelli, 1993; Rheingold, 1993; Kennedy, 1994; Penkoff, 1994; Reid, 1994; Turkle, 1995). The vast majority of those adopting opposite genders seem to be men; women rarely report such behavior (Serpentelli, 1993). Of the women that did admit to interacting as opposite gender characters, many of them expressed shock at what was perceived as an abrupt drop in the degree and frequency of helpful gestures and general civility offered by other "male" characters. Conversely, men consistently reported that their female characters received more assistance and generally prospered better than did their alternate male characters (Serpentelli, 1993; Bruckman, 1992; Rheingold, 1993).

It should be noted however, that information gathered through on-line interviews (such as Serpentelli's) may not be wholly reliable due to the very fact that one can never be absolutely certain of the true gender of the respondent. Indeed, any self-reports stemming from such an inherently fantasy laden construct must be accepted with a degree of skepticism. Again, exact demographics for the Internet are hard to come by, but it is estimated that 75% of the current cyberspace population is male (Cassidy, 1995) and Bruckman's survey (1992) of the MediaMOO revealed that 84% of the respondents were male, 16% were female.


Jay Chaskes has been conducting research pertaining to the "reinvention of self" in multi-user dimensions. Though his work is still in the pilot stage, he has found that it is common practice for individuals to assume several identities, which are employed for different purposes throughout various virtual worlds. As a disembodied entity, one may "appear" as whatever one wishes (Chaskes, 1995). This phenomenon of adopting different character names and personas for use in various settings has also been documented by other researchers (Curtis, 1992; Bruckman, 1992; Dibbell, 1993; Reid, 1994; Rheingold, 1993).


Another related topic, causing concern among psychologists and educators, is that of MUD addiction - wherein people so prefer their on-line lives that they actually begin to abandon their "real" lives, spending up to 18 hours per day living in virtual reality (Kelly & Rheingold, 1993; Bruckman, 1992; Suler, 1996). This phenomenon has recently been given the name Internet Addiction Disorder and support groups for the problem exist throughout the net and in various psychiatric treatment facilities (Suler, 1996). There have even been reports of Internet related deaths, such as cardiac arrests resulting from sleep deprivation and lack of personal maintenance or suicides due to Net related stress (Elmer-Dewitt, 1993; Rheingold, 1993). Such obsessive behavior has become quite a problem on some college campuses where computer facilities administrators have had to literally "pull the plug" on some addicted students (Cassidy, 1995). Little is known about this new form of addiction, but as mentioned previously a preliminary draft of the DSM-V includes a section delineating some of these types of "Cyber Disorders" (Zenhausen, 1995).


People may be friendlier towards one another in cyberspace. Resnick and Brugman (1994) claimed that, through their interviews with various participants of the MediaMoo project, he and his colleagues found that participants reported the most salient aspects of virtual community as, "ease of collaboration, availability of technical assistance from peers, playfulness, availability of an audience for completed work, and community spirit." Howard Rheingold (1993) reports that "Your chances of making friends (in cyberspace) are magnified by orders of magnitude over the old methods of finding a peer group. In addition, a recent survey of public school teachers who utilize the Internet as a classroom resource revealed that, except for its function as an information archive, "the rewarding social atmosphere" was viewed as the most outstanding feature of Net access (Kinslow & Sempsey, 1995). Likewise, studies conducted in educational settings where INTERNET access is available have revealed that children are less critical of differences via CMC than in face to face groups (Sauer, 1994; Simms & Simms, 1994). Additionally, a study by Masinter & Ostram (1993) on the effectiveness of multi-user information retrieval systems revealed that peer collaboration is higher in on-line information access than it is in "physical" libraries.

Yet a study of electronic bulletin boards conducted at Temple University revealed that Internet groups seem to form, interact and go through distinct stages just as do "real-life" groups (Bordia, 1994), implying that virtual groups may only seem to be more cooperative, friendly, etc.. Likewise, Kiesler et al. (1984), in one of the first studies ever conducted on Net related psychological phenomena, concluded that not only did computer mediated communication impede a group's ability to reach a consensus, but that it was practically devoid of the types of nonverbal social cues necessary to sustain the type of social climate Resnick and Brugman claim is inherent in the medium. Sara Brown also of Temple University, has come to mixed conclusions regarding CMC. She reports that groups were slower to develop relationships and commit to a common purpose via CMC than in face to face groups. The groups shared general information more freely, however they avoided the sharing of sensitive and personal information, and they found it more difficult to resolve conflicts (Brown, 1995). Finally, Dunlop and Kling (1991) have determined that the reduction in computerized BBS's of social cues that support "chat modes" sometimes foster special senses of personal trust and intimacy. That is, although they are less personal, they can also reduce social distance.


One of the most evident aspects of MUD related research is that there seems to be so little of it; in recent years there have been a number of studies conducted on CMC, most notably on asynchronous forms, but it is unclear as to what extent such research can be extrapolated to synchronous CMC (Metz, 1994). Furthermore, much of the CMC research has been conducted via relatively autonomous methodologies and with little emphasis on reconciling the various (and sometimes conflicting) results from previous studies. In an attempt to address this issue, Metz has advocated that future studies of CMC be conducted from within a CMC context rather than treating CMC as part of a broader set of communication (Metz, 1994). I concur with Metz in that if one is to begin to grasp the gestalt of CMC, then there needs to be established a cohesive theoretical framework. Though I am uncertain of what such a framework might consist.

The viability of studying MUDs from a CMC theoretical perspective, should one develop, may prove to be limited due to the extent to which MUD constructs can differ. One might be able to construe some axiomatic principles by which all such systems operate, but I doubt that these would be of any particular utility. As an analogy, most anthropologists can claim with certainty that all human cultures (in the real world) have one form or another of marriage; but this rule sheds little light upon the intricacies of any particular culture.

Though common themes have begun to emerge from the body of research pertaining to MUDs, many issues seem to have received only perfunctory consideration and some of the findings seem to be contradictory. For example, the issue of disinhibition although fairly universally accepted - needs to be explored in greater detail. What is the underlying cause of this phenomenon? The major hypotheses, as presented earlier, all appear to be plausible, but to what extent do the factors of anonymity, dramaturgical weakness and fearlessness contribute to disinhibition; why do they have such an effect (if this is the case), and what other effects can be attributed to them? If anonymity and dramaturgical weakness are causal factors then should not disinhibition decrease with the extension of bandwidth? This does not appear to be so (Marshall, 1993). Also, if MUD environments are demographically skewed towards predominantly college aged men (Bruckman, 1992), than could this not also be construed as a causal factor in such behavior? As stated at the beginning of this paper, one needs to consider MUDs in light of the fact that users are situated in both the "real world" and the "virtual world", especially since MUD populations appear to be comprised of an unrepresentative subset of the real-world population.

With respect to the issue of gender differences in MUD behavior, again it seems that too little data exists to even claim with certainty that such phenomena are more than mere anomalies. I would imagine that one way to establish the validity of such claims would be to form an all female experimental group, give them exclusive access to a MUD, and then compare the findings to another all male group occupying an identical environment. This would at least help to clarify some of the causal factors relating to these gender differences (i.e. are women behaving in such a manner because of something inherent in CMC or is this due to male influences in MUD culture?). This might serve to shed some light on the causal factors contributing to overall MUD related disinhibition as well. However, even though computer mediated environments seem tailor made for experimental observations, there seems to be a general bias on the part of MUD researchers towards non-experimental research designs; most of the MUD related research I could find was ethnographic and narrative in nature.

The two phenomena of gender swapping and multiple identities seem to be closely related. In such fantasy based - socially constructed environments one should expect that individuals will avail themselves of the opportunity to "try on" different persona, particularly in light of the fact that there seems to be little chance that such behavior will have any "real world" repercussions. Yet, when one considers the associated phenomenon of MUD addiction, it appears that there can indeed be real world consequences to on-line interaction, just as it has been argued that there are real-world consequences to televised reality (Bagdikian, 1983). With this interplay of actual and virtual reality in mind, finding answers to such questions as: 'Why do individuals become so attached to their virtual selves?', 'Why do women seem less prone to swap gender?', or 'Why do different virtual environments give rise to different personal manifestations?' become problematic, since it seems unclear where the source of such answers may lie (i.e. in the real world, the virtual environment, or in some combination).

Finally, the issue of whether people are friendlier in MUDs seems disputable. True, Resnick and Brugman do report that their interviewees claimed a friendlier atmosphere exists in MUDs than in face to face groups, but this is only one study. Dunlop and Kling's findings seem to suggest that people are friendlier because there is more distance between them (Dunlop & Kling, 1991). The remainder of studies that support this contention were conducted in CMC areas outside of MUDs, and as such are only tenuously acceptable. Besides, I discovered just as many CMC studies which contradict or problematize these findings (Kiesler, Siegal, & McGuire, 1984; Bordia, 1994; Brown, 1995). On the other hand, as was pointed out by Reid, it may not be fair to judge the quality of MU* interactions without first attempting to become familiar with the overall social dynamics of a given situation; what may seem unfriendly or chaotic to the uninitiated may be more a function misinterpretation than of intent (Reid, 1994). The perception of friendliness may also be confounded by the temperament of the individuals under study as it relates to computer environments in general. For example, it seems plausible that those who are somewhat technophobic might find any form of CMC to be unfriendly, whereas individuals that embrace technology might perceive the same environment as warm and inviting.

Considering that the Internet is becoming increasingly "real time" oriented, it seems reasonable to suggest that more research needs to be done concerning synchronous forms of CMC, of which MUDs are a major constituent. The issue of synchronous verses asynchronous CMC appears to be given little attention in many CMC studies, and it would help to clarify matters if future CMC studies were to be conducted with this synchronous/asynchronous distinction in mind. Furthermore, steps should be taken to establish some meta-theoretical framework through which researchers from different disciplines might be able to better benefit and learn from each other's work in this area. This implies that a hybrid discipline Cyberology/Psyber Psychology may be in order.


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