The effects of group centrality and accountability on conformity to cyber aggressive norms: Two messaging app experiments

Daniëlle N.M. Bleize*, Doeschka J. Anschütz*, Martin Tanis*, Moniek Buijzen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Cyber aggression in messaging apps often involves a group-based process of conformity to aggressive norms. To date, no empirical research has investigated this psychological process and its determinants. Therefore, this study reports two experiments that examined the effects of group centrality (the subjective importance of a social group) and accountability (being accountable for one's actions) on conformity to cyber aggressive norms. Additionally, the moderating role of susceptibility to peer pressure was examined. The experiments included a scripted WhatsApp conversation in which participants judged the appropriateness of cyber aggressive behaviors after viewing ostensible peers' responses. The results of Experiment 1 (N = 233, Mage = 13.19) were replicated in Experiment 2 (N = 296, Mage = 12.67), which had an improved method addressing the limitations of Experiment 1. Accountability affected conformity to cyber aggressive norms (Experiment 1: f =.18, p =.016; Experiment 2: f =.13, p =.041): Adolescents who did not think they had to discuss their responses in class conformed more than those who did. However, no effect of group centrality or moderating effects of susceptibility to peer pressure were found. This study extends conformity research to messaging apps. The findings suggest that increasing accountability in messaging apps may be a viable strategy for intervention efforts to reduce conformity to cyber aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106754
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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