A new study released by online commenting platform Disqus has found that people make a conscious decision to use pseudonyms depending on the topic.
In general, people say they’re more inclined to use a fake name when discussing private matters. These include views on politics, opinions about religion, or details about personal finance. Meanwhile, people say they’re more likely to use real names while discussing pets, food and drink, and health and fitness topics.
Disqus says the people it surveyed use pseudonyms 41% of the time when they comment online, and men are more likely than women to mask their identities.
Though the possibility of anonymity might lead commenters to be more aggressively negative, a 2013 study from the University of Wisconsin showed there’s a network effect when it comes to nasty comments. In short: If the remarks start out mean, the ones that follow will probably be worse.