Online Deceptive Impression Management: Self-admission and Other Estimates of False Facebook-selves

Tim Möller1, Bram Doms1, Mariëlle Stel1, *
1 Department of Psychology of Conflict, Risk, and Safety, University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

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© 2022 Möller et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychology of Conflict, Risk, and Safety, University of Twente, Netherlands; Tel: +31(0) 53 489 3366; E-mail:



People deceive online. There is, however, mixed evidence about whether people present themselves falsely on Facebook. We investigated to what extent people present their true selves on Facebook. As generally, people estimate their own behavior as ‘less evil’ than the behaviors of others, we also assessed people’s estimations of whether other people present their true selves on Facebook.


In two studies (n=94, n=189), participants filled in a survey asking them to report how frequently and intensely they falsely present themselves on Facebook and in which ways. They were also asked to estimate this for other Facebook users.


The results showed that the majority of participants were not always honest on Facebook regarding their personality, unbeneficial information, and emotional state. A minority of participants provided false information in comments. We also obtained the ‘less deceptive than thou’ effect: Participants estimated that others more frequently and intensively engage in deception.


The current research has led to new findings showing that the majority of the participants engage in deceptive self-presentational behavior and estimate others to be more deceptive than they are.

Keywords: Impression management, Deception, Facebook, Self-presentation, Social networks, Social networks, Internet.