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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 5 formally or informally. 1 If members indeed get to know each other, perceived anonymity through CMC technologies such as GDSS cannot be maintained in organizational contexts. Prior research distinguishes between two potential forms of anonymity: visual anonymity and anonymity related to the source of the message. (Kahai, Avolio, & Sosik, 1998)Kahai, Avolio, and Sosik (1998) call source anonymity that “in which group members cannot identify the source of any comment, though they can identify the other participants in the group” (p. 434). In contrast, they call process anonymity that “in which group members do not know the source of any comment, nor do they know other participants in the group” (p. 434). Thus, according to their definition, we could have source anonymity without process anonymity. On the other hand, process anonymity requires us to also have source anonymity. Consistent with Kahai et al’s (1998) definitions, Scott (1998, 1999) suggests the labels physical and discursive for the two forms of anonymity. Scott (1999) suggests that “the use of dispersed systems where participants are in different locations…promotes a type of physical anonymity with these systems (i.e. participants are not physically visible to one another)” (p. 463). This is consistent with the process anonymity suggested by Kahai et al (1998). Scott’s definition also informs the arguments made in this paper because it shows that physical anonymity relates more to the lack of visual cues, rather than on physical distance per se. Thus, what leads to this perceived anonymity is that the individual perceives that others lack visual cues that could identify him or her. Scott’s (1999) considers discursive anonymity happens “when comments appear to users without identification of the contributor” (p. 463). His definition of discursive anonymity is 1 In some cases there are groups that never interact through face-to-face. An example of these is groups that were formed virtually, and never interacted face to face, such as the formation of virtual groups in some MBA classes where students from different universities participate as a group (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). Nevertheless, as the example suggest, groups that never interact face to face are still more the exception than the norm.

Authors: Gomez, Luis.
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Visual Cues and Perceived Self-Anonymity
5
formally or informally.
1
If members indeed get to know each other, perceived anonymity
through CMC technologies such as GDSS cannot be maintained in organizational contexts.
Prior research distinguishes between two potential forms of anonymity: visual anonymity
and anonymity related to the source of the message. (Kahai, Avolio, & Sosik, 1998)Kahai,
Avolio, and Sosik (1998) call source anonymity that “in which group members cannot identify
the source of any comment, though they can identify the other participants in the group” (p. 434).
In contrast, they call process anonymity that “in which group members do not know the source of
any comment, nor do they know other participants in the group” (p. 434). Thus, according to
their definition, we could have source anonymity without process anonymity. On the other hand,
process anonymity requires us to also have source anonymity.
Consistent with Kahai et al’s (1998) definitions, Scott (1998, 1999) suggests the labels
physical and discursive for the two forms of anonymity. Scott (1999) suggests that “the use of
dispersed systems where participants are in different locations…promotes a type of physical
anonymity with these systems (i.e. participants are not physically visible to one another)” (p.
463). This is consistent with the process anonymity suggested by Kahai et al (1998). Scott’s
definition also informs the arguments made in this paper because it shows that physical
anonymity relates more to the lack of visual cues, rather than on physical distance per se. Thus,
what leads to this perceived anonymity is that the individual perceives that others lack visual
cues that could identify him or her.
Scott’s (1999) considers discursive anonymity happens “when comments appear to users
without identification of the contributor” (p. 463). His definition of discursive anonymity is
1
In some cases there are groups that never interact through face-to-face. An example of these is groups that were
formed virtually, and never interacted face to face, such as the formation of virtual groups in some MBA classes
where students from different universities participate as a group (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). Nevertheless, as the
example suggest, groups that never interact face to face are still more the exception than the norm.


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