Relational Communication in Computer‐Mediated Interaction

JOSEPH B. WALTHER, JUDEE K. BURGOON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

574 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study involved an experiment of the effects of time and communication channel—asynchronous computer conferencing versus face‐to‐face meetings—on relational communication in groups. Prior research on the relational aspects of computer‐mediated communication has suggested strong depersonalizing effects of the medium due to the absence of nonverbal cues. Past research is criticized for failing to incorporate temporal and developmental perspectives on information processing and relational development. In this study, data were collected from 96 subjects assigned to computer conferencing or face‐to‐face zero‐history groups of 3, who completed three tasks over several weeks’time. Results showed that computer‐mediated groups increased in several relational dimensions to more positive levels and that these subsequent levels approximated those of face‐to‐face groups. Boundaries on the predominant theories of computer‐mediated communication are recommended, and principles from uncertainty reduction and social penetration are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-88
Number of pages39
JournalHuman Communication Research
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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