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Applying CMC Theoreis to Assess Virtual Community
Unformatted Document Text:  CMC Theories and Virtual Community 10 even though CMC is asynchronous (most of CMC), therefore slower, and “lean”, relationship development takes longer through CMC than in face-to-face interaction, online interaction can grow more intimate and personal as time passes. One outstanding theoretical background that adds insight to the social aspects of CMC is Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE) (Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 1998). According to this model, the characteristics of a medium interact with characteristics of the social context and with the particular social definition of self to produce media effects. The cognitive aspect of the SIDE model proposes that scarcity of individuating information (i.e., information used for verifying identity) on CMC will heighten people’s sensitivity to salient social norms. In other words, due to the higher level of anonymity, members’ group identity tends to be amplified or exaggerated when they identify with the available social identity to some degree. Studies investigating the propositions of the SIDE model reported findings that CMC in a deindividuated setting renders group members more susceptible to the influence of norms (Postmes & Spears, 1995), social attraction to group members (Lea & Spears, 1992), stereotypes, and ingroup favoritism (Postmes, 1997). The main tenet of SIDE is that people will not be liberated from social environment even when anonymity is provided. Rather, they will develop social identities, norms and boundaries and use them to interpret the environment and guide their behaviors (Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 1998). Drawing on Social Identity Deindividuation (SIDE) theory, Walther (1996) developed an explanation for “hyperpersonal” effect, suggesting that under certain circumstances, CMC message receivers amplify the perceptions they form about their partners. It is thought that especially when communicating with someone who is physically distant (e.g. someone in another country), or with a person about whom one

Authors: Chung, Siyoung.
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CMC Theories and Virtual Community
10
even though CMC is asynchronous (most of CMC), therefore slower, and “lean”,
relationship development takes longer through CMC than in face-to-face interaction,
online interaction can grow more intimate and personal as time passes.
One outstanding theoretical background that adds insight to the social aspects of
CMC is Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE) (Postmes, Spears, &
Lea, 1998). According to this model, the characteristics of a medium interact with
characteristics of the social context and with the particular social definition of self to
produce media effects. The cognitive aspect of the SIDE model proposes that scarcity of
individuating information (i.e., information used for verifying identity) on CMC will
heighten people’s sensitivity to salient social norms. In other words, due to the higher
level of anonymity, members’ group identity tends to be amplified or exaggerated when
they identify with the available social identity to some degree. Studies investigating the
propositions of the SIDE model reported findings that CMC in a deindividuated setting
renders group members more susceptible to the influence of norms (Postmes & Spears,
1995), social attraction to group members (Lea & Spears, 1992), stereotypes, and
ingroup favoritism (Postmes, 1997). The main tenet of SIDE is that people will not be
liberated from social environment even when anonymity is provided. Rather, they will
develop social identities, norms and boundaries and use them to interpret the
environment and guide their behaviors (Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 1998).
Drawing on Social Identity Deindividuation (SIDE) theory, Walther (1996)
developed an explanation for “hyperpersonal” effect, suggesting that under certain
circumstances, CMC message receivers amplify the perceptions they form about their
partners. It is thought that especially when communicating with someone who is
physically distant (e.g. someone in another country), or with a person about whom one


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