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End of award report

Principal Researcher

Dr Martin Lea
Department of Psychology
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
+44 (0)161 275 2582


Professor Russell Spears
University of Amsterdam

Dr Sue Watt University of Manchester

Research Period
1 January 1998 to
30 June 1999
Effects of visual anonymity in computer-mediated group interactions

This project investigated some of the social psychological processes involved in communicating over the Internet. Four rigorous laboratory experiments focussed on perceptions and attitudes of people in group interaction.

Findings included the following:

  • Visual anonymity enhances depersonalised communication, i.e. it increases an awareness of self and others as members of a group
  • Visual anonymity reduces interpersonal cues so that an individual's perceptions are more affected by criteria relating to the interacting group than by pre-existing social categories
  • Video communication enhances gender awareness of self
  • Collective power (which generally depends on co-present group members to afford support) can be expressed through visually anonymous Internet communication

Extended summary(pdf)

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Contents current at 29th May 2001