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Exploring identifiability and status as determinants of intergroup behaviours in virtual interaction.

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Identifiability to an audience is an integral part of social life. It has powerful effects on behaviour. Some authors have argued that “deindividuation”, or a lowered sense of personal identifiability results in a loss of control over individual behaviour in a group situation. However, this has been contested. This study examines the Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE) and reputational theory as alternatives to traditional models of deindividuation. The SIDE model argues that the salience of personal versus social identity – and therefore the salience of different sets of norms or standards – govern social behaviour, while in contrast, reputational theory suggests that behaviour is governed by a group heuristic which ensures individuals gain and maintain access to generalized systems of exchange. VIAPPL (see was used to investigate the effects of various conditions of identifiability on ingroup favouritism, selfishness and reciprocity in an interactive, virtual environment. The results were then examined in order to determine whether the SIDE model or reputational theory were supported.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.