Conformity on the Internet – The role of task difficulty and gender differences
2012 (English)In: Computers in human behavior, ISSN 0747-5632, Vol. 28, no 5, 1587-1595 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Conformity and the effects of social influence have been studied for a long time in face-to-face situations but have received less attention in contexts of computer-mediated communication (CMC) such as the Internet. The purpose of this study was to investigate conformity behavior in use of the Internet. The social context for the participants was the Internet communities from which they were recruited. Four hypotheses were tested by a survey containing knowledge and logic questions. Half the participants were subjected to conformity manipulations and the result showed a clear conformity to erroneous majority alternatives. Of the participants in the Conformity group (n = 477) 52.6% conformed at least once, with an average 13.0% of participants conforming on each critical question. The conformity increased with higher task difficulty, both subjective and objective. The fourth hypothesis, that women would conform to a higher degree than men, received no support. Instead, the results showed higher conformity for men on both difficult and logical questions. Reasons for conformity on the Internet such as turning to the group for guidance, avoiding social isolation and protecting one’s self-esteem are discussed with reference to theory and earlier research.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Pergamon Press, 2012. Vol. 28, no 5, 1587-1595 p.
Conformity; Internet; CMC; Gender differences; Task difficulty; Social influence
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-77636DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.03.023ISI: 000307415300007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-77636DiVA: diva2:528171