Live for the moment : exploring the relationship between enactments of anonymity and time perspective
This dissertation explores the relationship between identity and time. Specifically, it tests the relationship between time perspective and enactments of anonymity. Working from a sociomaterial lens, two studies were conducted using both an offline population and various online communities. The first study recruited students to fill out a questionnaire which included both questions about their online habits and a short form of the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (Zhang et al., 2013). Additionally, participants were asked if they would be likely to use an anonymous, pseudonymous, or identified website in various hypothetical situations. The second study involved recruiting participants from various online communities (e.g., Facebook, Reddit, 4chan, and 8chan). Study 2 participants were also given a short version of The Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory as well as questions about their participation in the online community they were recruited from. Findings of the studies suggest that there is a significant relationship between present-hedonism and anonymity if group identification is taken into account. There is also evidence of a positive relationship between a future time perspective and using identified websites. This evidence supports three main conclusions that can be drawn from the data. First, that the material structures of a community (i.e., the community’s level of identifiability) can influence their tendencies related to their time perspectives. Second, the mechanism the causes individuals to exhibit for hedonistic anti-social behavior may not be cruelty but because the individuals are not thinking through the consequences (for neither themselves nor others). Finally, it is possible for a more long-term temporal structure to be created by increasing the dimensions of identity present in CMC environments.