Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Reader 1

Alan Hartley

Reader 2

Deborah Burke

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2015 Natasha M. Kraus

Abstract

The following research and subsequent study look at identity construction and intergroup differences during computer-mediated communication (CMC) across two platforms with varying degrees of anonymity: Twitter and Yik Yak. A review of research conducted mainly within the framework of the social identity model of deindividuation (SIDE) demonstrates that, counter to popular beliefs heralding the individual freedoms of anonymity, anonymous environments act to strengthen salient social identities and perpetuate group norms. In a medium with such variability and flexibility, drawing comparisons across platforms based solely on content can lead to error. In an attempt to circumvent this difficultly, a linguistics analysis of function words was conducted in each condition. Statistical tests point to changes in usage frequencies of i, impersonal pronouns, you, and they as distinctive between the individuating environment of Twitter and anonymous Yik Yak, while an almost identical underlying proportional framework seen in both platforms brings new context to understanding the role of societal norms in language construction.

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