Moral behaviour and the formation of social identity in minimal virtual environment.
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Social media has become a popular medium for social interaction. Behavior on these mediums has gained researchers attention due to their unorthodox, immoral forms of behavior. By providing a primitive virtual environment whereby participants can create their own meaning and constructs to a game, it can provide insight into the reasons for their emerging behaviors. The minimal group studies provide a platform whereby participants can engage in a virtual world, and through which contrast their own meaning to a simplistic game. Through their attached meaning, they express a formation of identity, and an emergence of new forms of behaviors. Although such emerging behavior is displayed in other contexts such as crowds, recent theories have developed extending to specifically virtually interaction. The SIDE model argues that anonymity enhances social identity and identity performance in interaction, inducing anti-normative behaviors to emerge. This study aims to examine the participant‟s constructs of the minimal game and through which determining if their emerging behaviour is due to a loss of identity or an evolving social identity as the SIDE model indicates. This study uses a qualitative, social constructionist design as it will enable the analysis of the social construction of the participants interaction in the game and allow for the understandings and insights of how they develop meaningful experiences Although useful, this method is limited as it can only draw emphasis on the participants construction, and their expression of what occurred in the game. The results indicate that the participants constructed the game by attaching meaning to their surround environment. They linked the context of the game to politics, money and social dynamic. Further the results indicate that within the individual condition they constructed that their behaviour was dependant on the context, and therefore justified. In the group context, there was a greater inclination to perception that all behaviour should benefit the group. This however, was contested by groups members stating that behaviour was circumstantial driven, and there were situations in which behaviour toward the group should not be expected. Ultimately, both aspects of the SIDE model, cognitive and strategic, were evident in the data. The anonymity of virtual worlds evoked the individuals into a greater emergence of social identity leading a new forms of behaviour as well as provides protection from judgement allowing for strategic behaviour is emerge.