Is it a Boy or a Girl? Anonymity and Gender in Computer-Mediated Interactions

Is it a Boy or a Girl? Anonymity and Gender in Computer-Mediated Interactions

Katheryn C. Maguire (Wayne State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch501

Abstract

This chapter examines the research on sex differences and gender identification in computer-mediated interaction (CMI), and presents a pilot study of synchronous, anonymous, one-to-one interactions, to understand the extent to which a person’s “real life” sex can be identified in CMIs as well as the stylistic and linguistic cues that “mark” someone as “male” or “female.” Although previous research has reported sex differences in a number of different variables (e.g., number of words, disagreements), analysis of the transcripts in this study revealed only one significant difference, in that men corrected themselves more often than women. Furthermore, participants correctly guessed the sex of their partner 62.5% of the time, felt approximately 65% sure of their guess, and used gender stereotypes to make their assessments. Implications for anonymity and CMI research are discussed, focusing on the conditions under which sex differences and gender stereotypes become relevant in on-line interactions.

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