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SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING THEORY Joseph Walther in Griffin’s A first Look at Communication theory.

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Presentation on theme: "SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING THEORY Joseph Walther in Griffin’s A first Look at Communication theory."— Presentation transcript:

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2 SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING THEORY Joseph Walther in Griffin’s A first Look at Communication theory

3 CLICKER QUESTION One of Griffin’s critique points for SIP is as follows: The drive to affiliate may differ between those who typically seek out others online vs. f2f (Griffin 7 th ed.. P. 148); This critique is especially important for: A. Doing Research on Online Relationships; B. Deciding how to select subjects to compare online and f2f relationships; C. Both

4 HOW DOES CMC DIFFER FROM FACE- to-FACE COMMUNICATION? SOCIAL PRESENCE THEORY: –Text-based messages deprive CMC users of the sense other warm bodies are involved in the interaction; –Communication becomes more impersonal and task oriented;

5 HOW DOES CMC DIFFER FROM FACE- to-FACE COMMUNICATION? Media Richness Theory: –Classifies each communication medium according to the complexity of the messages it can handle; –E.g., face-to-face communication provides a rich mix of verbal and nonverbal cue systems; –By contrast, CMC is limited in the nuanced information that it can carry, presumably, making it harder for social relations;

6 HOW DOES CMC DIFFER FROM FACE- to-FACE COMMUNICATION? Reduced Social Context Cues: –Lack of social context cues in CMC makes it difficult for users to judge their relative status, norms for interaction are not clear; –People tend to become more self-absorbed and less inhibited; –The result is increased flaming--hostile language;

7 HOW DOES CMC DIFFER FROM FACE- to-FACE COMMUNICATION? All of these theories share a cues filtered out view of CMC; They see the absence of nonverbal cues as a flaw which limits its usefulness; SIP THEORY disagrees and claims that users can adapt to the restricted medium and develop close relationships;

8 SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING (SIP) THEORY Walther’s theory rests on the idea that relationships grow as people develop impressions of one another--who they are--social information; SIP theory is consistent with social penetration theory and uncertainty reduction theory; If the interacting parties like the image of the other that they have formed, they draw closer; Unlike cues filtered out theorists, SIP does not hold that the loss is injurious to a well-defined impression of the other;

9 SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING (SIP) THEORY Two features of CMC according to SIP: 1.Verbal cues. When motivated to form impressions and develop relationships, communicators use any cue system’s available; 2.Extended time. The communication of social information through CMC is much slower than it is face-to-face, so impressions are formed at a reduced rate; given enough time, CMC relationships can be just as strong as f-to-f; they end up with the same quantity and quality of interpersonal knowledge;

10 SIP vs. GULP.

11 RESEARCH: SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING (SIP) THEORY A study by Walther et al. tested the idea that CMC vs. face-to-face could produce the same sort of impressions; Dyads interacted f-to-f or via CMC to discuss moral dilemmas; one member of each dyad was an accomplice who was to act friendly or unfriendly; Raters categorized behaviors that communicated affect; Naïve Ss rated the degree of affection expressed by their dyad partner;

12 RESEARCH: SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING (SIP) THEORY RESULTS: The mode of communication made no difference in the emotional tone perceived by naïve participants; What verbal behaviors did confederates use in CMC to show that they were friendly? –Self disclosure –Praise –Explicit statements of affection

13 Nonverbal vs. Verbal in Face-to- Face vs. CMC When face-to-face, participants tended to express warmth (friendliness) nonverbally—facial expression, eye contact, tone of voice, body position, and other nonverbal cues to show how they felt about their partner; With CMC, the content of what they wrote carried the messages of friendliness and unfriendliness;

14 EXTENDED TIME The length of time that CMC users have to send their messages is the key to whether or not they can achieve the same level of intimacy as with face-to-face communication; It takes at least four times longer to send a message through CMC than through face-to-face (e.g., 10 minutes of f2f = 40 minutes of CMC);

15 EXTENDED TIME Two additional factors affecting interpersonal impressions online: –Anticipation of future interaction motivates greater relational development; –Chronemics refers to the perception and use of time in interaction with others; –Time is the one nonverbal cue that is not filtered out in CMC (E.g., the time of day an was sent; the time of response; the meaning of time depends on the relationship ;

16 WHY IS IT THAT SOMETIMES CMC SURPASSES F2F IN QUALITY OF RELATIONAL COMMUNICATION? Hypersonal: Walther uses the term hyperpersonal to label CMC relationships that are more intimate than romances or friendships would be if partners were physically together; How senders select, receivers magnify, channels promote, and feedback increases selected behaviors in CMC;

17 SENDERS SELECT Through selective self-presentation, people who meet online have an opportunity to make and sustain an overwhelmingly positive impression; In the movie YOU’V GOT MAIL, Joe and Kathleen are virtual friends but would have detested one another in f2f life;

18 RECEIVER OVERATTRIBUTION OF SIMILARITY: Our tendency is to observe people and to infer from their behavior what type of person they are; With CMC, we leap from the little bit of information we have to judgments about who they are; We create an idealized image of the sender;

19 OVERATTRIBUTION OF SIMILARITY In the absence of cues that focus on the individual, we assume that our CMC partner is like us or like the group—group solidarity; Hence, we create an excessively positive, idealized image of the other online (social identity-deindividuation—SIDE); With an excessively positive image of the other, plus anticipation of future interaction, we form a hyperpersonal relationship with our virtual partner;

20 CHANNEL: Communicating on Your Own Time Some applications of online communication are asynchronous: parties do not have to attend at the same time; In asynchronous communication, we can feel that the message will be read at a time when the other is receptive to messages; In asynchronous communication, we can plan, contemplate and edit more mindfully than in spontaneous talk;

21 FEEDBACK: SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY Self-fulfilling prophecy is the tendency for a person’s expectation of the other to evoke a response from them that confirms what he/she anticipated; Self-fulfilling prophecy is triggered the hyperpositive image is fed back to the other, creating the CMC equivalent of the looking glass self; The person perceived to be wonderful, starts acting that way;

22 CRITIQUE While SIP predicts CMC relationships forming slower than f2f relationships, yet Walther’s studies show that sometimes they develop at the same pace or even faster than f2f; The drive to affiliate may differ between those who typically seek out others online vs. f2f; The hypersonal perspective has been less explicit in predicting negative relational outcomes in CMC; Walther recognizes that his principles of sender-receiver- channel-feedback do not have a unifying driving force;


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