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Effects of Representational Similarity on Deindividuation and Conformity to Group Norms in Computer-Mediated Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  4 anonymous) CMC groups conformed to group norms (either achieving consensus or making the right decision), whereas the co-present CMC conditions, with relatively abundant visual and social cues present, did not show a corresponding tendency. Likewise, when group members were primed with a certain type of social behavior (i.e., efficiency vs. prosocial norms) by means of a pre-experimental task, anonymous groups displayed prime-consistent behavior in the following experimental session, whereas identifiable groups did not (Postmes, et al., 2001). Beyond anonymity: Visual representation as a cause of deindividuation As the name indicates, the SIDE model primarily concerns deindividuation phenomena in group contexts. Defined as a psychological state involving decreased self-awareness, which subsequently reduces the influence of social norms and standards (Zimbardo, 1969; Diener, 1980), researchers have often suggested deindividuation as an explanation for hostile, uninhibited behavior (i.e., flaming) observed in early CMC studies (e.g., Siegel, Dubrovsky, Kiesler, & McGuire, 1986; Sproull & Kiesler, 1986; Kiesler et al., 1984). Due to certain characteristics of CMC, such as technologically induced anonymity and weak social feedback, it is argued that participants’ objective self-awareness decreases and thus they are more likely to act upon impulses that would normally be inhibited. However, the assumption that deindividuation causes anti-normative behaviors has not received strong empirical support (e.g., see Postmes & Spears, 1998, for a meta-analysis) and the findings once considered to evidence anti-normative behaviors were reinterpreted as indicating conformity to situational norms, which apparently contradicted general social norms (e.g., Lea, O’Shea, Fung, & Spears, 1992). In contrast to the classical conceptualization of deindividuation (Zimbardo, 1969; Diener, 1980), the SIDE model does not associate deindividuation with a loss of self-awareness. Instead, deindividuation simply refers to a lack of individuation, entailing the diminished capacity to individuate one’s environment and increased attention to social dimensions of the self (Reicher, 1987; Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 1999). In this view, deindividuation is hypothesized to deflect

Authors: Lee, Eun-Ju.
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anonymous) CMC groups conformed to group norms (either achieving consensus or making the
right decision), whereas the co-present CMC conditions, with relatively abundant visual and
social cues present, did not show a corresponding tendency. Likewise, when group members were
primed with a certain type of social behavior (i.e., efficiency vs. prosocial norms) by means of a
pre-experimental task, anonymous groups displayed prime-consistent behavior in the following
experimental session, whereas identifiable groups did not (Postmes, et al., 2001).
Beyond anonymity: Visual representation as a cause of deindividuation
As the name indicates, the SIDE model primarily concerns deindividuation phenomena in
group contexts. Defined as a psychological state involving decreased self-awareness, which
subsequently reduces the influence of social norms and standards (Zimbardo, 1969; Diener,
1980), researchers have often suggested deindividuation as an explanation for hostile, uninhibited
behavior (i.e., flaming) observed in early CMC studies (e.g., Siegel, Dubrovsky, Kiesler, &
McGuire, 1986; Sproull & Kiesler, 1986; Kiesler et al., 1984). Due to certain characteristics of
CMC, such as technologically induced anonymity and weak social feedback, it is argued that
participants’ objective self-awareness decreases and thus they are more likely to act upon
impulses that would normally be inhibited. However, the assumption that deindividuation causes
anti-normative behaviors has not received strong empirical support (e.g., see Postmes & Spears,
1998, for a meta-analysis) and the findings once considered to evidence anti-normative behaviors
were reinterpreted as indicating conformity to situational norms, which apparently contradicted
general social norms (e.g., Lea, O’Shea, Fung, & Spears, 1992).
In contrast to the classical conceptualization of deindividuation (Zimbardo, 1969; Diener,
1980), the SIDE model does not associate deindividuation with a loss of self-awareness. Instead,
deindividuation simply refers to a lack of individuation, entailing the diminished capacity to
individuate one’s environment and increased attention to social dimensions of the self (Reicher,
1987; Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 1999). In this view, deindividuation is hypothesized to deflect


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