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Effects of visual cues on public self-awareness and perceived anonymity of self
Unformatted Document Text:  Visual Cues and Perceived Self-Anonymity 9 An important issue that is still unresolved is how self-awareness relates to perceived anonymity. Some scholars have used perceived anonymity and self-awareness in similar ways. According to their respective definitions, their distinction becomes fuzzy. For example, Pissoneault and Heppel (1998) define anonymity as “condition that frees individuals from social evaluation or scrutiny” (p. 95). These same authors suggest that “public self-awareness involves attention to oneself as a social object and concerns appearance and impressions made in social situations” (p. 94). From these two definitions we can see the difficulty in separating perceived anonymity and public self-awareness. For example, what is the difference between “social evaluation or scrutiny” and “impressions made in social situations”? As mentioned before, the concept of self-awareness was developed from trait studies about self-consciousness. In this sense, we can understand public self-awareness as a temporal state which is similar to the public self-consciousness trait. Fenigstein (1979) defined public self- consciousness as "the degree to which persons recognize and are concerned about the way they are perceived by others" (p.77). When individuals in a group do not recognize the way others perceive them they might act if “… group members do not know the source of any comment, nor do they know other participants in the group” which is Kahai’s et al’s (1998, p. 434) definition of visual anonymity. Thus, we can observe how a lower public self-awareness leads to an increase in anonymity. I suggest that the recognition of how others perceive us depends on visual cues. Further, it is a lack of that recognition, and not he visual cues themselves, which leads to perceived anonymity. Thus, I suggest the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 2: Public self-awareness mediates the relationship between visual cues and perceived anonymity.

Authors: Gomez, Luis.
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Visual Cues and Perceived Self-Anonymity
9
An important issue that is still unresolved is how self-awareness relates to perceived
anonymity. Some scholars have used perceived anonymity and self-awareness in similar ways.
According to their respective definitions, their distinction becomes fuzzy. For example,
Pissoneault and Heppel (1998) define anonymity as “condition that frees individuals from social
evaluation or scrutiny” (p. 95). These same authors suggest that “public self-awareness involves
attention to oneself as a social object and concerns appearance and impressions made in social
situations” (p. 94). From these two definitions we can see the difficulty in separating perceived
anonymity and public self-awareness. For example, what is the difference between “social
evaluation or scrutiny” and “impressions made in social situations”?
As mentioned before, the concept of self-awareness was developed from trait studies about
self-consciousness. In this sense, we can understand public self-awareness as a temporal state
which is similar to the public self-consciousness trait. Fenigstein (1979) defined public self-
consciousness as "the degree to which persons recognize and are concerned about the way they
are perceived by others" (p.77). When individuals in a group do not recognize the way others
perceive them they might act if “… group members do not know the source of any comment, nor
do they know other participants in the group” which is Kahai’s et al’s (1998, p. 434) definition of
visual anonymity. Thus, we can observe how a lower public self-awareness leads to an increase
in anonymity. I suggest that the recognition of how others perceive us depends on visual cues.
Further, it is a lack of that recognition, and not he visual cues themselves, which leads to
perceived anonymity. Thus, I suggest the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2: Public self-awareness mediates the relationship between visual cues and
perceived anonymity.


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