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Effects of Representational Similarity on Deindividuation and Conformity to Group Norms in Computer-Mediated Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  23 controlling for conformity and it was statistically significant, r = .31, p < .02: People tended to exaggerate the degree of consensus within a group when group members are deindividuated. Discussion Experiment 2 aimed to 1) replicate the effect of visual representation on deindividuation and conformity, 2) cross-validate the deindividuation index with related measures, and 3) directly investigate the mediating role of group identification in the SIDE model. The overall findings support that uniform representation of CMC participants not only renders it difficult to individuate interaction partners but also leads people to ascribe greater homogeneity between the partners. Moreover, the results indicate that it is group identification, rather than interpersonal similarity per se, that partially accounts for the impact of deindividuation on conformity. The effect of visual representation on perceived similarity between group members is interesting for two reasons. First, unlike interpersonal similarity with each group member, the assessment of similarity between the group members was not affected by the participant’s own decisions on the scenarios. Since the decisions and supporting arguments presented by the ostensible partners were held constant, had people based their similarity judgment solely on the content, not on such peripheral and irrelevant cues as virtual appearance of partners, there should have been no effect for character manipulation. Second, the perception that other group members share similar values and beliefs seems to reflect perceived salience of group norm, for group norms in the present experiments were defined in terms of the agreement between other discussants. Possibly, uniform character representation enhances conformity not only by triggering deindividuation and subsequent group identification, but also by rendering the existing group norm perceptually more salient. In fact, the partial correlation for similarity between the partners and conformity, controlling for deindividuation, was statistically significant, although the size was moderate, r = .30, p = .05. To our surprise, the correlations between interpersonal similarity and conformity were close to zero’s, which supports the proposition that group identification and interpersonal

Authors: Lee, Eun-Ju.
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controlling for conformity and it was statistically significant, r = .31, p < .02: People tended to
exaggerate the degree of consensus within a group when group members are deindividuated.
Discussion
Experiment 2 aimed to 1) replicate the effect of visual representation on deindividuation
and conformity, 2) cross-validate the deindividuation index with related measures, and 3) directly
investigate the mediating role of group identification in the SIDE model. The overall findings
support that uniform representation of CMC participants not only renders it difficult to
individuate interaction partners but also leads people to ascribe greater homogeneity between the
partners. Moreover, the results indicate that it is group identification, rather than interpersonal
similarity per se, that partially accounts for the impact of deindividuation on conformity.
The effect of visual representation on perceived similarity between group members is
interesting for two reasons. First, unlike interpersonal similarity with each group member, the
assessment of similarity between the group members was not affected by the participant’s own
decisions on the scenarios. Since the decisions and supporting arguments presented by the
ostensible partners were held constant, had people based their similarity judgment solely on the
content, not on such peripheral and irrelevant cues as virtual appearance of partners, there should
have been no effect for character manipulation. Second, the perception that other group members
share similar values and beliefs seems to reflect perceived salience of group norm, for group
norms in the present experiments were defined in terms of the agreement between other
discussants. Possibly, uniform character representation enhances conformity not only by
triggering deindividuation and subsequent group identification, but also by rendering the existing
group norm perceptually more salient. In fact, the partial correlation for similarity between the
partners and conformity, controlling for deindividuation, was statistically significant, although the
size was moderate, r = .30, p = .05.
To our surprise, the correlations between interpersonal similarity and conformity were
close to zero’s, which supports the proposition that group identification and interpersonal


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