Research methodology for studying field-controlled and self-controlled behavior on the Internet and destructiveness eliciting instrument

Education and Culture

The article is based upon foregrounding of the ideas of Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) and argues field-controlled and self-controlled behavior and ways of presenting oneself on the Internet. This classification and way of description are based on Kurt Lewin’s idea of the inseparability of subjects and the field that surrounds them and the influence of the field (both psychological and material) on the individual. The article develops the idea of the explanatory potential of the “field-controlled/self-controlled behavior” distinction on the contemporary Internet users’ behavior. The authors regard the Internet as not just a neutral technological environment, but as an intense media environment rich in different stimuli that can predetermine, predispose and provoke certain behavior in users. The article elicits key features of communicative behavior of the “Youth” social group representatives, medical students in particular. To assess the students’ field-controlled and self-controlled behavior indicators the authors attempted to elaborate a special questionnaire. It was designed for analyzing the predominant attitudes in users’ behavior, based on specific indicators, measurable variables and distribution of clusters. Primary testing of the questionnaire for a homogeneous respondent group (medical students, n = 30) elicited several problem areas, exposing individual’s vulnerabilities, triggering users’ field-controlled behavior on the Internet. The students’ reaction to the Internet stimuli was evidenced as diverse, although in the majority of cases – ambivalent. That ambivalence feature can be regarded as a predictor of a field-controlled behavior risks. The limitations of the study reflect the need for further extensive testing and possible diversification of the questionnaire elements, involving collecting more data and more heterogeneous samples of different other social, occupational, and age groups.