Computer-mediated communication is defined as communication that occurs over the internet and involves the use of a computer. Despite outward appearances, computer-mediated communication and face-to-face communication may be similar in some respects. Research on computer-mediated communication has encompassed a variety of topics such as interaction style, interpersonal factors, and their relationships to leadership. The most common finding of researchers is that the elimination of social cues from a conversation can reduce potential biasand allows for unrestricted flow of opinions.
Research also reveals other similarities and differences between virtual and face-to-face communication. For example, Guéguen (2002) tested whether the robust and well-supported social psychological concept known as the “foot-in-the-door” technique would be relevant to virtual communication. The “foot-in-the-door” theory states that those who are willing to complete a smaller task are more likely to accept a second, more time consuming, request.
Guégon’s findings revealed that those communicating in a virtual environment were also susceptible to “foot-in-the-door” influences. Another interesting finding came from Potter and Balthazard’s (2002) study, which examined whether the interaction styles of virtual teams would predict performance. Findings suggested that the reduction of visually-based social cues may result in less hesitation on the part of participants to communicate their ideas. In addition, participation levels were equalized, and interaction differences associated with status levels were limited. Future research should utilize longitudinal studies to examine whether effects such as there are long-lasting.
Michael Mulholland, ’08 Cypress, TX
Majors: Psychology, Philosophy
Sponsor: Carolyn Zerbe Enns