Abstract - The Information Society 15(4)

Gender Identification, Interdependence, and Pseudonyms in CMC: Language Patterns in an Electronic Conference.

J. Michael Jaffe, Young-Eum Lee, Li-Ning Huang, and Hayg Oshagan

An quasi-experimental study examines how pseudonymous identification in a computer-mediated communication (CMC) context might (a) reflect a motivation for gender-based status parity and (b) mitigate supposed gender-based communication differences associated with social interdependence. 114 undergraduate students were assigned to participate in one of two separate computer-based, bulletin-board style discussion groups or "forums." In one forum, participants were identified by their real names while participants in the other were identified by self-chosen pseudonyms. Consistent with expectations, analyses of conference transcripts and pseudonym choices indicated that i) women tended to mask their gender with their pseudonym choice while males did not, and ii) women in both forums generally tended to exhibit certain dimensions of social interdependence more frequently than men. These dimensions included references to others, references to self, and supporting statements. Contrary to expectations, pseudonymous identification was not associated with a statistically significant mitigation of gender differences in three of the four indicators of social interdependence. With respect to incidences of self-references, to a statistically significant degree, gender differences in the pseudonymous forum were less manifested than in the real name forum.

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