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Effects of Representational Similarity on Deindividuation and Conformity to Group Norms in Computer-Mediated Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  25 (Spears et al., 1990). The present experiments, however, demonstrate that a particular form of visual cue may in itself serve as the very basis of a group. Indeed, Postmes et al. (1998) have suggested that some visual cues may help to identify other people as belonging to shared categories, such as gender and ethnicity, and thus facilitate social identification effects. Our experiments take this proposition further, demonstrating that the visual cues do not even have to reflect “real” characteristics of communication partners. Uniform “virtual” representation, when the group level self-identity is made salient, activates deindividuation and subsequently identification with the group. Second, to elucidate the relationship between deindividuation and adherence to group norms, we treated deindividuation as a continuous variable as opposed to a categorical one. In previous studies, when deindividuation was induced by means of experimental procedure (e.g., anonymity manipulation), it was typically considered as a categorical variable and thus, its effect was examined in terms of the between-groups comparison. However, the extent to which the experimental manipulation induces the psychological state of (de)individuation is likely to vary for each individual. Therefore, for a more precise test of the impact of deindividuation on group behavior, we captured the degree of deindividuation and related it with conformity. In addition, the present experiments demonstrate that explicit group categorization is not a prerequisite for deindividuation to accentuate group influence (cf. Postmes et al., 2001). While Experiment 1 confirms that the effect of deindividuation on conformity varied depending upon the salient level of identity, it should be noted that participants were not led to categorize other participants as group members. Instead, they were explicitly told that their partners belonged to a different social group, which further discourages identification with them. Nevertheless, when the interaction context rendered their social dimension of the self salient, deindividuation triggered group identification. Nevertheless, the modest correlation between deindividuation and group identification (r = .26, p < .03) reminds that reduced individuality does not always translate into a corresponding

Authors: Lee, Eun-Ju.
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(Spears et al., 1990). The present experiments, however, demonstrate that a particular form of
visual cue may in itself serve as the very basis of a group. Indeed, Postmes et al. (1998) have
suggested that some visual cues may help to identify other people as belonging to shared
categories, such as gender and ethnicity, and thus facilitate social identification effects. Our
experiments take this proposition further, demonstrating that the visual cues do not even have to
reflect “real” characteristics of communication partners. Uniform “virtual” representation, when
the group level self-identity is made salient, activates deindividuation and subsequently
identification with the group.
Second, to elucidate the relationship between deindividuation and adherence to group
norms, we treated deindividuation as a continuous variable as opposed to a categorical one. In
previous studies, when deindividuation was induced by means of experimental procedure (e.g.,
anonymity manipulation), it was typically considered as a categorical variable and thus, its effect
was examined in terms of the between-groups comparison. However, the extent to which the
experimental manipulation induces the psychological state of (de)individuation is likely to vary
for each individual. Therefore, for a more precise test of the impact of deindividuation on group
behavior, we captured the degree of deindividuation and related it with conformity.
In addition, the present experiments demonstrate that explicit group categorization is not
a prerequisite for deindividuation to accentuate group influence (cf. Postmes et al., 2001). While
Experiment 1 confirms that the effect of deindividuation on conformity varied depending upon
the salient level of identity, it should be noted that participants were not led to categorize other
participants as group members. Instead, they were explicitly told that their partners belonged to a
different social group, which further discourages identification with them. Nevertheless, when the
interaction context rendered their social dimension of the self salient, deindividuation triggered
group identification.
Nevertheless, the modest correlation between deindividuation and group identification (r
= .26, p < .03) reminds that reduced individuality does not always translate into a corresponding


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