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Effects of Representational Similarity on Deindividuation and Conformity to Group Norms in Computer-Mediated Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  17 uniform representation might threaten his or her needs for singularity and thus activate the social differentiation process. As Codol (1984) puts, “Marked similarity, like anonymity, lack of distinctiveness or de-individuation, is a situation from which people try to escape. When the search for differences is involved, the responses mainly demonstrate the wish to be able to express oneself as a person” (p. 322). While the present experiment highlighted different identity needs by simulating inter-group vs. interpersonal encounters, it would be interesting to explore the need factor as an individual difference. For example, would those who chronically seek for group affiliation be more susceptible to group influence when other CMC partners are represented in a standardized form than when everyone assumes distinctive outlooks? Even if the leaning toward group vs. personal identity is not part of their personality, depending on what their primary purpose of participating in CMC, people might display different reactions to the standardized representation of users. Although the manipulation of interactants’ group membership evoked different dimensions of self-identity, evidenced by significantly higher identification with schoolmates in the inter-group condition (Walther, 1997), it apparently failed to create the ingroup vs. outgroup contrast in the participants’ mind. As it turned out, they did not perceive their schoolmates as more similar to themselves than students from other campuses. Given that the shared group identity was not made salient in the same-university condition, they might have found no reason to feel closer to strangers just because they attend the same university. Perhaps participants do not consider their university being particularly distinguishable from other UC campuses. The fact that there was no between-groups competition (them vs. us) might have discouraged defining other university students as out-groupers. Whatever the reason might be, more research is needed to shed light on how deindividuation relates to out-group discrimination, an aspect of social identification effects that has received little attention relative to in-group favoritism. Experiment 2

Authors: Lee, Eun-Ju.
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17
uniform representation might threaten his or her needs for singularity and thus activate the social
differentiation process. As Codol (1984) puts, “Marked similarity, like anonymity, lack of
distinctiveness or de-individuation, is a situation from which people try to escape. When the
search for differences is involved, the responses mainly demonstrate the wish to be able to
express oneself as a person” (p. 322). While the present experiment highlighted different identity
needs by simulating inter-group vs. interpersonal encounters, it would be interesting to explore
the need factor as an individual difference. For example, would those who chronically seek for
group affiliation be more susceptible to group influence when other CMC partners are
represented in a standardized form than when everyone assumes distinctive outlooks? Even if the
leaning toward group vs. personal identity is not part of their personality, depending on what their
primary purpose of participating in CMC, people might display different reactions to the
standardized representation of users.
Although the manipulation of interactants’ group membership evoked different
dimensions of self-identity, evidenced by significantly higher identification with schoolmates in
the inter-group condition (Walther, 1997), it apparently failed to create the ingroup vs. outgroup
contrast in the participants’ mind. As it turned out, they did not perceive their schoolmates as
more similar to themselves than students from other campuses. Given that the shared group
identity was not made salient in the same-university condition, they might have found no reason
to feel closer to strangers just because they attend the same university. Perhaps participants do not
consider their university being particularly distinguishable from other UC campuses. The fact that
there was no between-groups competition (them vs. us) might have discouraged defining other
university students as out-groupers. Whatever the reason might be, more research is needed to
shed light on how deindividuation relates to out-group discrimination, an aspect of social
identification effects that has received little attention relative to in-group favoritism.
Experiment 2


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