Two faces of anonymity: Paradoxical effects of cues to identity in CMC

  • Tanis M
  • Postmes T
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This paper presents two experimental studies investigating the effects of presenting cues that provide information about the interactors - called cues to identity - in computer mediated communications (CMCs). Study 1 shows that even though cues to identity affected interpersonal evaluations, in making them more positive, the presence of these cues were associated with less certainty and less medium satisfaction for users with experience in online communication. Study 2 shows that when performing an online communication task, participants felt more certain, were more satisfied with the medium, and thought they had performed better in the absence of cues to identity. Thus, this study supports the widespread assumption that rich interactions (i.e., interactions that allow the transmission of cues to identity such as face-to-face) are superior in that they make the interaction more personal, but that these outcomes are not mirrored by the evaluation of the interaction. It is suggested that the presence of cues to identity positively affects interpersonal perceptions, but at the same time decreases perceptions of solidarity or entitativity. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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  • Martin Tanis

  • Tom Postmes

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