How does the degree of anonymity affect our morals? : A study examining behavioural changes in online communication
Abstract: Humans have found ways to communicate with each other since the beginning of time. However, the way we communicate has changed over the years. Today we can communicate with people from all over the world by employing digital technologies, and this can sometimes be done without revealing individuals’ actual identity. With anonymity comes many problems, such as a lack of responsibility, the feelings of other people seem to be valued lower in an online setting than in the real world, and there are often no consequences for those who behave badly or unethically. This study investigates how our morals correlate with our degree of anonymity while we communicate in an online setting. To achieve the study’s goal, a social experiment, where participants had the choice to act either altruistic or selfish, was performed. The social experiment was in the form of an online competition and was conducted under two different conditions. In the first clause, the participants were completely anonymous and in the second, they were exposed with their full names and a picture with their face visible. The hypothesis for the study was that a higher level of anonymity reduces the feeling of responsibility, which causes a person to care less about her moral compass, and will therefore make more selfish choices. The results showed that this was not the case. A higher percentage chose the selfish option when presented with name and picture. However, the result also exhibited that the majority of the study participants felt a difference in their behaviour during the two clauses.
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