Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/147854
Title: Examining how anonymity, group identity, and secondary goals influence online verbal aggression
Authors: Sng, Jeremy Rong Hui
Keywords: Social sciences::Communication
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Sng, J. R. H. (2020). Examining how anonymity, group identity, and secondary goals influence online verbal aggression. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. https://hdl.handle.net/10356/147854
Abstract: Verbal aggression is increasingly prevalent online, especially so in social media and online gaming environments. These trends are worrying because despite occurring virtually, verbal aggression can cause psychological distress to victims in reality. It can also influence others to exhibit similar behavior, subsequently harming the general climate of discussion and perceptions of socially appropriate behavior. In the long run, this can reduce the quality of online interactions and mar the enjoyment of online experiences. The aim of this set of two studies is to untangle the complexities surrounding verbal aggression online, in the contexts of online commenting and online gaming. Currently, there is ample attention on research into external factors such as technological affordances (e.g., level of anonymity offered) and social norms, but there is less insight on intrapsychic factors explaining why verbal aggression occurs online. Study 1 and Two thus aim to fill this gap by integrating the notion of secondary goals by Dillard et al. (1989) with the Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects (Reicher et al., 1995), to examine how varying conditions of anonymity and group identification with others can affect individuals’ internal concerns and motivations during the message crafting process to determine whether they send aggressive messages or not. Specifically, Study 1 (N = 90) demonstrated through an online experiment on online commenting behavior that verbal aggression was higher when group identification with other verbally aggressive individuals was high. Concern about identity goals and concern about communication management goals also moderated the effects of group identification on verbal aggression such that aggression was even greater when concern was low. This showed that in the context of online commenting, aggressive behavior is highly dependent on perceived norms and the behavior of others as well as the internal state of the person. Study 2 (N = 121) built upon this finding and sought to understand whether similar effects held up in a different context of sustained interaction over time: an online cooperative gaming context where participants shared a common fate with their assigned group of three players (one participant and two verbally aggressive confederates). It was found that contrary to Study 1, verbal aggression was higher when group identification with other verbally aggressive individuals was low. Concern about identity goals, concern about communication management goals, and concern about relational resource goals also moderated the effect of anonymity on verbal aggression such that aggression was even greater when concern was low. This further showed that concern about secondary goals is an important moderator to consider when examining online aggression. Overall, this dissertation has contributed theoretically to the literature on mediated communication by elucidating the psychological factors involved in and conditions leading to online aggressive behavior.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/147854
DOI: 10.32657/10356/147854
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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