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Tracing the Parallels Between Road Rage and Cyber Bullying

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The human behavior behind high tech hostility and cyber rage.

Professor Tamara Daily
Credit University of Mount Union
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Professor Tamara Daily

Tamara Daily is a psychology professor at the University of Mount Union. She's reviewing current research on how people interact on social media.  

In particular she is looking at how interacting on the web while remaining anonymous may be enabling out-sized hostility; like in road rage, where studies show the isolation of drivers in their cars to be a factor. It’s something that psychologists call deindividuation: the diminishing of self-awareness in a group.  

“In this case, there are lines of research that connect the two. Deindividuation, loss of identity, whether it’s wearing a uniform, or wearing sun glasses, or being in a car, however it happens, people tend to be more willing to behave more aggressively.”

The medium itself can contribute to this. What we say shows up in characters, displaced from us. And because we are not eye-to-eye with anyone, there are no modifying expressions or intonations. "And whether it's Twitter or Facebook, or even email ,the format does kind of force a coldness."  

University of Mount Union
Credit University of Mount Union
/
University of Mount Union

“And then, the fact that there is no authority figure on line, the norms are always in flux. On Twitter, there are no norms. There are no rules.  And the trolls and flamers get the most attention.”

“The internet is always open.  You can always go there and it gives you just an immediate opportunity to weigh in. And it also give a permanent sense of audience.”

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