In this chapter we explore the social psychological dimensions of computer-mediated communication (CMC). We shall not be directly concerned here with the processes by which people choose CMC in preference to other communications media (see e.g., Fulk & Boyd, 1991, for a recent review), although it will become obvious that our argument has implications for media choice models. Rather we are interested here in the social psychological factors operating once "inside" CMC and particularly the ... Continue Reading
Computer-Mediated Communication Theory
There is no single theory of computer-mediated communication, but rather several different CMC theories. These computer-mediated communication theories can be broadly divided into two types. Deterministic theories, which basically argue that the computer medium has a set of fixed properties that lead to a fixed set of predictable outcomes.
Examples of deterministic theories of CMC are:
- Social Presence Theory by Short, Williams, and Christie
- Media Richness, by Daft & Lengal
- Reduced Social Cues Theory by Kiesler and Siegel
- Social Information Processing Theory by Walther.
More sophisticated theories of CMC propose that both the communication process and the outcomes of computer-mediated communication are influenced by the social context of the communication as much as by the communication technology itself, and that these two factors interact to produce more varied, but nonetheless predictable consequences.
Example of contextualized theories of computer-mediated communication include
- Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects (lso know as the SIDE Model of CMC) by Lea, Spears and Postmes.
- The Hyperpersonal Model of CMC by Walther
- The Social Influence Model by Fulk.
Of course, there are others, but these are perhaps the best known.
The following book chapters, which you can download, provide overviews and critical reviews of computer-mediated communication theories.
Social psychology has a long history of researching the effects of communication technologies, such as the telephone and television, on individuals and groups. Social psychological research on the Internet has focused predominantly on text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC), such as e-mail, bulletin boards, newsgroups, conferencing, and chat. These have been compared both theoretically and empirically with face-to-face communication or with some other standard that controls for certain ... Continue Reading
In this chapter we argue that issues of identity are central to understanding how communication technologies affect organizational practice. We develop this argument by first reviewing some of the dominant approaches to understanding the social psychological processes implied or held responsible for CMC effects. We highlight the common themes underpinning these approaches, and trace their origins. As we hope to make clear, despite the variety of approaches, they rely nevertheless on a small set ... Continue Reading
The use of Internet communications has increasingly become part of our lives both at work and at home, for business and for recreation. Internet communications are augmenting and substituting for many of the interpersonal and group interactions that were previously conducted face-to-face. Surveys have repeatedly shown that electronic mail benefits business as a replacement for meetings (McKenna & Bargh, 2000), and evidence is also emerging that interpersonal communication is the dominant ... Continue Reading
It is a safe bet that computer-mediated communication (CMC) features in the everyday life of those likely to be consulting this volume. Less than two decades ago this would not have been the case. The growth of the Internet has meant that CMC use has become ubiquitous in the developed world, and a marker of social exclusion for those denied access. Social science has hardly kept pace with these technological changes in communication, either in terms of understanding their global impacts or ... Continue Reading
The reader is asked to tolerate a degree of egocentrism if this chapter appears to be written from an “ingroup” point of view, particularly with an emphasis on our own theoretical slant, and to some extent research. This is after all meant to be a general overview chapter on social identity and CMC. Our excuse is that this is difficult to avoid to some extent. When we started working in this area in the mid-80s there was very little research on the role of social identities in CMC, and what ... Continue Reading