The Psychology of Anonymity

A few months ago I wrote an article for GamePro magazine about what effects deindividuation and anonymity had on gamers. For those of you who aren’t subscribers or who didn’t pick up the magazine, GamePro recently published the article on their website for your clicking pleasure.


Nifty artwork by Andrew Yang

I turned Bobo the Quote Monkey loose on the article and he came back with this:

A recent comprehensive review of the whole body of deindividuation research appeared in the journal Psychological Bulletin. The review confirms that studies where there’s a strong, external message about how to behave were the most likely to elicit the deindividuation effect-but it didn’t always result in antisocial behavior. For example, in one study researchers repeated the electric shock experiment described previously, but had some anonymous subjects dress up like Ku Klux Klan members and others dress up as nurses. The people in the white Klan robes shocked more, while those dressed as nurses-a profession associated with helping and healing-shocked less. Why? While the people under those uniforms knew they were anonymous, part of a group and likely experienced an “I am not who I normally am” feeling, they still took some of their cues on how to behave from the environment. By understanding the results of this study, it’s not hard to see how expectations were placed on the subjects to behave the way they did when under the influence of deindividuation.

The same logic applies to the gaming world.

At any rate, enjoy.

3 thoughts on “The Psychology of Anonymity

  1. Hi Jamie,

    I was interested in reading your article for a research project I am doing on anonymity in the online gaming space, but the GamePro links lead nowhere…

    Is there a way I could get a copy of your article? I would really appreciate it!

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