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Effects of Representational Similarity on Deindividuation and Conformity to Group Norms in Computer-Mediated Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  24 similarity are not identical constructs (e.g., Allen & Wilder, 1975). Although interpersonal similarity seems to lead to greater identification with the group (or equally likely, identification led to the attribution of greater similarity to each individual partner, as inferred from correlational data), interpersonal similarity per se did not predict conformity whereas group identification did. What determines compliance with the group norm is the perception of shared values and commonality with other members in general (group identification) rather than perceived similarity with each individual member (interpersonal similarity). Contrary to Experiment 1, uniform visual representation failed to elevate perceived interpersonal similarity in Experiment 2. However, character manipulation did elicit the predicted effect with respect to the assessment of similarity between group members. One possible explanation for this discrepancy is the resistance to accepting one’s similarity to others. Considering that the search for personal uniqueness is more highly valued than the search for similarities, at least in contemporary Western culture (Codol, 1984), people might have found it easier to claim, “they are similar to each other” than to admit, “I am no different from them.” Given the inconsistent findings, however, the effect of visual representation on perceived interpersonal similarity needs further investigation. General discussion The present experiments demonstrate that uniform representation of CMC partners can activate deindividuation and subsequent conformity behavior, when the group level of self- identity is made salient, for example, in an inter-group encounter. Moreover, the findings show the causal links between deindividuation and conformity, both direct and indirect through group identification. Taken together, the results extend the SIDE model in several respects. First, unlike previous studies that focused on the consequences of deindividuation, we examined what feature of CMC possibly triggers deindividuation in typical CMC settings. So far, visual cues have been mostly viewed as a source of individuation and thus considered to undermine group unity by deflecting people’s attention from the common basis of the group

Authors: Lee, Eun-Ju.
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similarity are not identical constructs (e.g., Allen & Wilder, 1975). Although interpersonal
similarity seems to lead to greater identification with the group (or equally likely, identification
led to the attribution of greater similarity to each individual partner, as inferred from correlational
data), interpersonal similarity per se did not predict conformity whereas group identification did.
What determines compliance with the group norm is the perception of shared values and
commonality with other members in general (group identification) rather than perceived
similarity with each individual member (interpersonal similarity).
Contrary to Experiment 1, uniform visual representation failed to elevate perceived
interpersonal similarity in Experiment 2. However, character manipulation did elicit the predicted
effect with respect to the assessment of similarity between group members. One possible
explanation for this discrepancy is the resistance to accepting one’s similarity to others.
Considering that the search for personal uniqueness is more highly valued than the search for
similarities, at least in contemporary Western culture (Codol, 1984), people might have found it
easier to claim, “they are similar to each other” than to admit, “I am no different from them.”
Given the inconsistent findings, however, the effect of visual representation on perceived
interpersonal similarity needs further investigation.
General discussion
The present experiments demonstrate that uniform representation of CMC partners can
activate deindividuation and subsequent conformity behavior, when the group level of self-
identity is made salient, for example, in an inter-group encounter. Moreover, the findings show
the causal links between deindividuation and conformity, both direct and indirect through group
identification. Taken together, the results extend the SIDE model in several respects.
First, unlike previous studies that focused on the consequences of deindividuation, we
examined what feature of CMC possibly triggers deindividuation in typical CMC settings. So far,
visual cues have been mostly viewed as a source of individuation and thus considered to
undermine group unity by deflecting people’s attention from the common basis of the group


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