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Effects of Representational Similarity on Deindividuation and Conformity to Group Norms in Computer-Mediated Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  7 cognitive cue of shared social category (Turner, 1984), uniform visual representation might still trigger identification with the group. Indeed, a recent study has shown that people tend to associate the attributes of the characters with invisible CMC partners, even though they were fully aware that the characters had been randomly assigned (Lee & Nass, 2002). If such mental association exists between visual representation and anonymous interactants, people might feel closer to those represented by the same character as themselves as compared to those represented by different-looking characters. H2: Individuals will attribute greater similarity to same-charactered interactants than to different-charactered counterparts. Once people categorize themselves as group members, as opposed to unique individuals, the stage is set for referent informational influence to occur (Turner, 1987, 1991). Here, conformity is embedded within the need to reach agreement with psychological in-group members. Since uncertainty more likely arises from disagreements with those whom one expects to agree (Abrams, Wetherell, Cochrane, Hogg, & Turner, 1990; Hogg & Turner, 1987), adherence to group norms should increase as a function of the cognitive salience of shared group membership. H3: Individuals will show greater conformity to group norms when everyone is represented by the same character compared to when each person is assigned a unique character. Interpersonal vs. Inter-group context: Search for personal vs. group identity As noted earlier, the major tenet of the SIDE model is that provided a common identity is available, deindividuation increases the salience of group identity and group identification, thereby enhancing the group’s influence (Postmes et al., 2001). Typically, group identity has been rendered salient by consistently addressing participants as “group members,” as opposed to “individuals” (Spears et al., 1990; Postmes & Spears, 1997), telling participants that the researchers were interested in them as representatives of their group (e.g., psychology students) rather than as individuals (Spears et al., 1990), or seating two groups (science students vs. social

Authors: Lee, Eun-Ju.
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cognitive cue of shared social category (Turner, 1984), uniform visual representation might still
trigger identification with the group. Indeed, a recent study has shown that people tend to
associate the attributes of the characters with invisible CMC partners, even though they were
fully aware that the characters had been randomly assigned (Lee & Nass, 2002). If such mental
association exists between visual representation and anonymous interactants, people might feel
closer to those represented by the same character as themselves as compared to those represented
by different-looking characters.
H2: Individuals will attribute greater similarity to same-charactered interactants than to
different-charactered counterparts.
Once people categorize themselves as group members, as opposed to unique individuals,
the stage is set for referent informational influence to occur (Turner, 1987, 1991). Here,
conformity is embedded within the need to reach agreement with psychological in-group
members. Since uncertainty more likely arises from disagreements with those whom one expects
to agree (Abrams, Wetherell, Cochrane, Hogg, & Turner, 1990; Hogg & Turner, 1987),
adherence to group norms should increase as a function of the cognitive salience of shared group
membership.
H3: Individuals will show greater conformity to group norms when everyone is
represented by the same character compared to when each person is assigned a unique character.
Interpersonal vs. Inter-group context: Search for personal vs. group identity
As noted earlier, the major tenet of the SIDE model is that provided a common identity is
available, deindividuation increases the salience of group identity and group identification,
thereby enhancing the group’s influence (Postmes et al., 2001). Typically, group identity has been
rendered salient by consistently addressing participants as “group members,” as opposed to
“individuals” (Spears et al., 1990; Postmes & Spears, 1997), telling participants that the
researchers were interested in them as representatives of their group (e.g., psychology students)
rather than as individuals (Spears et al., 1990), or seating two groups (science students vs. social


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