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Influence of Deindividuation and Self-Awareness on College Students

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Abstract

This study seeks to measure the relationship of self-awareness and individuation of college students to deindividuation and negative behaviors. College students are hypothesized to have higher occurrence of violating social rules when they experience deindividuation. A bowl of candy will be placed in the common college dorm area with a sign that says “get 1 only”. The variables used in the study include age, self-awareness by the use of mirrors, anonymity, and disguises.

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INFLUENCE OF DEINDIVIDUATION AND SELF-AWARENESS

The relationship between deindividuation theory and self-awareness theory had been explored by various studies and had been found to be associated in terms of decreasing inhibition and self-regulation.

Anonymity and group membership are strongly related to deindividuation, when an individual becomes part of a group, his/her individuality or sense of self and identity becomes overshadowed by the group’s identity, goals and values (Postmes & Spears, 1998).

When personal identity is lessened, self-awareness is also decreased. Anonymity makes people feel invisible hence they cannot be held accountable for their actions thereby increasing the tendency to violate societal norms and standards and lowering self-regulation (Postmes & Spears, 1998).

In general, previous researches had concluded that deindividuation may lead to the loss of sense of self-awareness, increased violation of social standards and an increase in unacceptable behavior. In the 1976 study of Halloween trick-or-treaters, 1352 children were observed as they were given the opportunity to steal candies or money to measure the influence of anonymity, group membership and altered responsibility to deindividuation (Diener, Fraser, Beaman, and Kelem, 1976). The researchers found that anonymity led to a higher rate of stealing; also, individuals who were members of a group were likely to steal more than those who were alone. However, altered responsibility was not found to increase stealing in all conditions, it was concluded that assigning responsibility to the group member may lead to the fear of punishment or the activation of the conscience. The study also found that modeling effects increased the likelihood of stealing by the other members. The researchers theorized that self-awareness and locus of control may affect deindividuation as it explains how none anonymity and responsibility led to lower rates of stealing.

In a related study that explored the relationship of self-awareness and self-regulation (Beaman, Klentz, Diener, and Svanum, 1979), children were given the opportunity to steal candies from a candy bowl in the homes they visited; however, a mirror was placed behind the candy bowl to create conditions for self-awareness. The children were instructed to get only one candy, while a hidden observer recorded the behavior of the child. In order to increase the conditions for individuation, children were asked their names and addresses. The results showed that individuated children with no mirror stole more candies however, anonymous children with no mirror stole less candies compared to the group with mirrors. The researchers concluded that when children were anonymous, the presence of the mirror did not affect their behavior, they explained that the mirror may only have heightened the focus on the costume and did not evoke self-awareness. It was evident from the findings of this study that self-regulation is influenced by the perceived feeling of anonymity, the salient standards of behavior and group modeling. Deindividuation therefore leads to unacceptable behavior only when the conditions of social norms and expectations are not enforced.

Group membership and the presence of others had been found to influence individual behavior; people are more likely to behave positively in the presence of others, while anonymity lowers the need to behave in socially acceptable ways. In a study that measured the effects of subtle cues of being watched to cooperative behavior (Bateson, Nettle, and Roberts, 2006), it was found that individuals were more likely to contribute more or behave positively when an image of a pair of eyes was placed in the break room compared to an image of a flower. The results indicated that people react to subtle cues in order to maintain the social reputation of the individual. Thus, by merely being in the presence of others wherein positive behavior is expected, people will act in socially approved ways. It would seem that the awareness or perception of being watched or scrutinized would increase the likelihood of behaving positively even if one’s anonymity is maintained. Anonymity is a prerequisite for deindividuation, but as indicated, anonymity does not always lead to negative behaviors however; self-regulation is influenced by group affiliation.

The literature on deindividuation and self-awareness points out that the two concepts are overlapping and interrelated. Deindividuation has been conceived as influencing negative behavior and self-awareness had been presumed to counteract the likelihood of behaving negatively. The research results however are inconclusive, for example, self-awareness did not deter children from stealing candies, while anonymous children behaved less negatively than expected. In addition, anonymity in adults did not generally indicate negative behavior but only lesser contributions to the honesty box. The effect of age and modeling had also been indicated as important factors in the study of deindividuation and self-awareness, where children are not likely to become self-aware, and adults have more need to maintain positive reputation.

This study seeks to measure the relationship of self-awareness and individuation of college students to deindividuation and negative behaviors. College students are hypothesized to have higher occurrence of violating social rules when they experience deindividuation. A bowl of candy will be placed in the common college dorm area with a sign that says “get 1 only”. The variables used in the study include age, self-awareness by the use of mirrors, anonymity, and disguises.

References

Bateson, M., Nettle, D., & Roberts, G. (2006).  Cues of being watched enhance

            cooperation in a real-world setting. [Electronic version]  Biology Letters, 2, 412-416.

Beaman, A. L., Klentz, B., Diener, E., Svanum, S. (1979). Self-awareness and

            transgression in children:  Two field studies. [Electronic version]. Journal of

            Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1835-1846.

            414.

Diener, E., Fraser, S. C., Beaman, A. L., & Kelem, R. T. (1976). Effects of

            deindividuation variables on stealing among Halloween trick-or-treaters

            [Electronic version].  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33, 178-183.

Postmes, T. & Spears, R. (1998). Deindividuation and anti-normative behavior: A meta-

analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 123, 238-259.

 

Cite this Influence of Deindividuation and Self-Awareness on College Students

Influence of Deindividuation and Self-Awareness on College Students. (2016, Oct 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/influence-of-deindividuation-and-self-awareness-on-college-students/

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