DOI: 10.1177/19485506231217523 ISSN: 1948-5506

A Functionalist Approach to Seeking Anonymity: Examining the Role of Motives, Cost, and Individual Differences

Lewis Nitschinsk, Stephanie J. Tobin, Eric J. Vanman
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Anonymity is widely available in online environments, yet more needs to be understood about why people seek it out. In three studies ( N = 677), we used a novel dictator game to assess how financial motivations, cost, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy influence people’s choice to seek anonymity. We found that: (1) People sought anonymity to keep more money for themselves or to give more money to their partner. (2) Those high in Machiavellianism viewed anonymity as valuable and were motivated to keep more money for themselves only when they were anonymous. (3) Those high in psychopathy viewed anonymity as less valuable and were less likely to pay to be anonymous to achieve their goals. Our findings shed new light on the complex interplay of individual differences, motivations, and situational affordances in shaping people’s behavior.

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