The deindividuating effects of anonymity on automated group idea generation.
AuthorJessup, Leonard Michael.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractRecent developments in information systems technology have made it possible for individuals to work together anonymously using networked personal computers. In this dissertation, a theory of anonymous interaction is proposed. Evidence is provided to suggest that anonymity has deindividuating effects on group process and can, therefore, influence group outcomes in several ways. Two experiments on anonymity in idea generation are presented. In Study 1, where subjects could leave at their discretion, identification kept them longer and caused them to type more, though there were no differences in the quantity or quality of the ideas across experimental conditions. In Study 2, where subjects were forced to stay, identifiability lost importance. Responsibility, however, rose in importance. Subjects with sole responsibility for their task produced more output than did subjects who shared responsibility. Taken together, these results forced us to reject the hypothesis that anonymous subjects would produce more output than would identified subjects. These results show that we cannot speak simply of the effects of anonymity on idea generation in computer-supported groups. With a straightforward interpretation of previous experiments on GDSS anonymity, it was hypothesized that anonymous subjects would produce more than identified subjects. They did not. It is clear that anonymity will lead to deindividuation, enabling participants to engage in uninhibited behavior. However, whether their behavior is productive or unproductive is determined, at least in part, by task, interaction, and technology.
Degree ProgramBusiness Administration