Contrary to popular belief that people who chat online tend to behave badly, recent research has shown that the pressure to act civil holds good even in online chat-rooms.

For the study, the researchers looked at 2.5 million posts from 20,000 participants on topics that ranged from music, sports to forums on specific computer programs. In all, around 20 topics were chosen for this study.

The researchers found that despite the fact that people remain anonymous, they tend to be neutral or positive while expressing their views. The researchers say that the reason for this behavior is that people in these chat rooms are frequent visitors and so feel the pressure to be polite. The researchers found that the instantaneous nature of chat-room conversation was another reason that people behaved nicely. Other online media like blogs or forums were found to have more negative messages and emotional out-bursts.

“As the daily “bump” the activity patterns also suggest, most users return to the online chats regularly, to meet other users they may already know. This puts a kind of social pressure on their behavior (even in an unconscious manner) to behave similar to offline conversations,” write Antonios Garas and colleagues.

A study published in CyberPsychology & Behavior suggests that people who make friends online tend to be truthful about what they say even though they never or seldom reveal their true names. These people also are more likely to be socially skilled with good verbal communication and empathy towards other people even outside the chat-rooms.

Another study says that people who spend more time in chat rooms do tend to be open about themselves and emotionally connect to others. The study also found that men were more likely than women to lie, especially about their socio-economic status. Women lied mostly to remain safe online.

The present study continues this view about people being anonymous and having opportunity to lie but finds that people have some form of emotional sharing among members of chat-rooms that they visit just like they’d have in real life.

The study is published online in Nature.