This chapter reviews a program of research that has developed around the Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE; Lea & Spears, 1991; Postmes & Spears, 1998; Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 1998; Reicher, Spears, & Postmes, 1995; Spears & Lea, 1992; 1994). In particular, we review intra-group processes in private and public settings in order to advance our understanding of normative influence in groups.
Postmes, T., Spears, R., & Lea, M. (1999). Social identity, group norms, and “deindividuation”: Lessons from computer-mediated communication for social influence in the group. In N. Ellemers, R. Spears, & B. Doosje (Eds.), Social identity: Context, commitment, content. Oxford: Blackwell.
In developing the theoretical background to this research, we first contrast the analysis of social influence by social identity and self-categorization theories with classical approaches to group influence (i.e. in small face to face groups). In addition to examining social influence in the group, we use the SIDE framework to consider related issues of stereotyping, ingroup favouritism and attachment to the group.
Although we have studied these issues in the domain of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), our approach also raises more basic theoretical questions of how the general features of this medium can moderate processes of social influence and group behaviour, sometimes in somewhat surprising and paradoxical ways. In the process, we add further empirical flesh to the themes of context, commitment and content that are central to this volume.
Categorization in and commitment to groups provides the basic explanatory unit, in line with social identity principles. In line with self-categorization theory, content of group norms defines the direction of conformity and helps to explain the diversity of social behaviour that can follow. Finally the context of communication (face to face versus computer-mediated), forms the social setting which can accentuate or attenuate these processes. The SIDE model is above all an attempt to elaborate these contextual implications of social identity theory (Spears, 1995b), particularly those relating to anonymity and identifiability. Computer-mediated-communication constitutes a ready-made externally valid context in which we can simultaneously examine and apply these theoretical ideas.
About the book
Social identity has been at the heart of European experimental social psychology for the past 25 years, and has been of growing interest in North America during the past decade where research in the field has expanded significantly. This text fills the need for an overview of recent developments in social identity theory, covering both theoretical and empirical work. It brings together material that would otherwise be hard for students to locate in one volume.
This collection introduces a whole program of research, situating it within a larger theoretical framework. The editors have drawn together different strands of the program, revealing their common theoretical roots and highlighting recurring themes. The chapters cover a broad range of different topics and theoretical issues, including perceptions of self and others, communication and social influence, and the behavioral consequences of these social identity processes.
The volume begins by introducing students to the original theoretical underpinnings of social identity (as developed by Tajfel and Turner in the mid 1970s). Subsequent chapters look at significant advances in both theory and empirical work since this time. The presentation of ongoing research against the background of established work enables the reader to gain insight into empirical directions and theoretical developments for the future.