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New York State Communication Association

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Presentation on theme: "New York State Communication Association"— Presentation transcript:

1 New York State Communication Association
About Face Threat: An Analysis of Negative Behaviors in Computer-mediated Communication Marie L. Radford, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Rutgers University   Jocelyn A. DeAngelis, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Rutgers University   Gary P. Radford, Ph.D., Professor, Fairleigh Dickinson University   Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, OCLC New York State Communication Association October 21-23, 2011

2 Virtual Reference (VR)
Web-based chat & instant messaging (IM) CMC reference services VR encounters capture full transcript of interaction between reference librarian & user VR interactions complex & fraught with possibility of misunderstandings & miscommunications Traditional face-to-face (FtF) reference interactions have long been recognized as complex, goal-directed interpersonal encounters (e.g., see Ross, Nilsen, & Radford, 2009, Taylor, 1968). VR interactions are complex and fraught with the possibility of misunderstandings or miscommunications due to: Constraints in the chat text-based environment A paucity of nonverbal cues Complexity of rapport establishment Difficulty in negotiating an understanding of query and assessment of information needs

3 Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior
“On Face-Work: An analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction” (1967) Erving Goffman

4 Face-Work “Much of the activity occurring during an encounter can be understood as an effort on everyone’s part to get through the occasion and all the unanticipated and unintentional events that can cast participants in an undesirable light, without disrupting the relationships of the participants” (Goffman, 1967, p. 41) Goffman’s (1959, 1967) concept of face-work & face threat Face-work is characterized as rooted in ritual behaviors that structure common human communication behaviors, including greetings, closings, & politeness conventions Goffman believes that people shape their identity in the choices that are made in how they present themselves to others. This public identity is complex, fluid, and context-dependent rather than fixed Goffman’s concept of “face” is a powerful metaphor that has been used “to designate the universal desire to present oneself with dignity” and “a kind of reciprocated respect or deference” (Domenici & Littlejohn, 2006, p. 10).

5 Face Defined Positive social value person claims
Self-image in terms of approved social attributes

6 Face-Work in Encounters
Face is located in flow of events Feelings about face reinforced by encounters If better face established – feel good If expectations not fulfilled – feel bad or hurt Neutral experience – expected, not memorable

7 Face-Work, continued Positive Face - Having and Maintaining Face
According to Goffman: “A person may be said to have, or be in, or maintain face when the line he effectively takes presents an image of him that is internally consistent…that is confirmed by evidence conveyed through interpersonal agencies in the situation” (p. 7). Face is constructed both by ourselves and is also given to us by others in how one is treated. When one is “in face” he/she responds with feelings of confidence, security, relief, and assurance, can hold his/her head up, and can openly present himself/herself to others.

8 Types of Positive Face-Work
Face-work helps achieve success in interpersonal communication encounters To “give face” is in the process of making someone look good, giving them a better line than they had previously established. To “save face” one may use a sense of humor or otherwise defuse situations that threaten face. Poise is described as being very important in face-work because, “through poise the person controls his embarrassment and hence the embarrassment that he and others might have over his embarrassment” (Goffman, p. 13). Face-saving practices vary within different cultures and subcultures and are chosen from a socially constructed and circumscribed “repertoire” of rituals (Goffman, 1967, p. 13).

9 Face Threat = Negative Face-work
Communication threatens face of interactants Types Losing Face Person caught in embarrassing or damaging position (e.g., in a lie or inappropriate behavior) Wrong Face or Out of Face Experience shame Possible to maintain confidence, if others cover (e.g., one makes faux pas & others pretend not to notice) Poise is ability to conceal wrong face or out of face Friction: operationalized to be any type of interaction that hampered the query process or instigated other types of conflict.

10 Face-Work in VR Goffman provides powerful frame to analyze VR encounters Face & face-work appear in flow of transcript (event) Analysis identifies instances or lack of face-work Face-work provides one explanation for the fear library users have of appearing stupid to librarians in FtF and CMC environments (Swope & Katzer, 1972; Lui & Redfern, 1997; Radford & Connaway, 2007). In Goffman’s terms, library users fear being “in wrong face” if their library skills are revealed to be inadequate and anticipate that they would be “likely to feel ashamed and inferior” (1967, p. 8).

11 Methodology Data from Institute of Museum & Library Services Grant of $684,996 “Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference services from user, non-users, and librarian perspectives” Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and OCLC, Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Project duration: 2 ½ Years (10/05-3/08) 4 phases including transcript analysis

12 Sample Selection 850 VR transcripts randomly selected from 479,673 transcripts (8/04-11/06) 746 usable transcripts qualitatively analyzed & coded 1 transcript selected to illustrate face-threats in VR “Physics” - “The Accelerating Bumper Car” Duration: 17 min., 8 sec. Coded using Radford Relational Coding Scheme Nvivo software used for coding Several coders with high intercoder realiability scores

13 Findings “Physics” 1 U Physics 2 L [Please hold for the next available librarian. If you would like a transcript of this session ed to you, please type your full address now.] 3 [24/7 Librarian [Name] - A librarian has joined the session.] 4 when you drive forward in a bumper car at high speed and then you slam into the car in front of you, you find yourself thrown forward in your car. Which way is ur car accelerating? 5 thank you for holding I was working with another patron. The “Physics” example, both the U and L symmetrically exclude a greeting ritual from the initial interaction. In line 1, the U launches into the topic of the query, without an opening salutation In examples that possess positive face-work, a salutation is customary in opening a query. In line 4, the U presents the full query, again without any form of greeting or polite request. Subsequent lines of interaction are open to the U and L to include additional information, such as a missed greeting, but this does not take place.

14 Findings “Physics” 5 L thank you for holding I was working with another patron. Line 5 is the first typed response from the L (line 2 is a script). The L does show deference toward the U by saying “thank you for holding,” and also by providing an explanation of the wait time, “I was working with another patron.” The lack of face-work present on behalf of the L is evidenced by the omission of a greeting ritual for the U. The lack of the greeting ritual initiates a series of face threats that can be seen to hang as a cloud over the interaction to follow (Goffman, 1967).

15 Findings “Physics” 6 L Is this a homework question. 7 I'm not an expert on driving so I really can't answer that. 8 U can u find a website or something 9 I'm not sure what you are asking. 10 when you drive forward in a bumper car at high speed and then you slam into the car in front of you, you find yourself thrown forward in your car. Which way is car accelerating? Line 6: In Goffman’s (1967) terms this question can be interpreted as a direct face threat the implication being that the U should not be seeking help with “homework, ” and that the U should feel shame at not being able to do his/her own work Line 7: L types, “I'm not an expert on driving so I really can't answer that” a disclaimer and acts in the interaction as a type of negative face-work and a form of rebuff and refusal to offer to help find an answer to the Us query Line 7: This sort of statement acts in the interaction as a sort of barrier and an obstacle in the way of the U achieving an answer. It exemplifies a face-treat because the L is not encouraging a mutual understanding, nor is the L engaging in relationship development (Radford, 1999).

16 Findings “Physics” 13 L Is this a homework a homework assignment. what subject is it. 14 I really don't understand how I can answer that for you. 15 U can i hav another librarian 16 The information you gave you me does not help me find any resources to help you. 17 What do you mean by which way is your car accerlaerating. Are you sure thats what your assignment asks. 18 Yes Line 13: L inquires to the U as to whether the question for homework and what the subject is. This line indicates that the L is not fully engaged and is demonstrating a lack of attention since the first line of the transcript offers the subject of the question. Line 14: L comes back a second time with a disclaimer This is an attempt to push the U away. Line 15: U acknowledges the L’s unwillingness or inability to help and requests “another librarian.” In line 15, the U acknowledges the L’s unwillingness or inability to help and requests “another librarian.” This request serves as a disconfirming message to the VR L, which can be considered a direct face threat, perhaps resulting in the L experiencing shame and losing face (Goffman, 1967).

17 Findings “Physics” 16 L The information you gave you me does not help me find any resources to help you. 17 What do you mean by which way is your car accerlaerating. Are you sure thats what your assignment asks. 18 U Yes Line 17: L continues with more questions to the U, “Are you sure that’s what your assignment asks” This question to the user’s interpretation of the assignment and the tone of which can be taken to be condescension Overall, a lack of face-work is evidenced on both the part of the librarian and the user Face-saving techniques are not utilized Apologies are not present

18 Findings “Physics” 19 L What subject is this question from? 20 U
21 Okay just one moment. 22 [Web Page sent] 23 This is one site that may help. Line 19: L demonstrates a lack of attention to the interaction by asking for the subject of the question once more. Line 21: L agrees to help the U and pushes a page to the U and in line 23. The initial request is not observed by the L, which leads to the librarian issuing a face threat to the U to reissue the initial query. This shows that the L may not be taking the question or U seriously or perhaps not devoting time to the U, which acts to diminish the importance of the U’s query In turn functions as a lack of concern for the U’s face. Furthermore, this particular line issued by the L diminishes his/her face in interaction by showing that the L is not attending to previously issued information.

19 Findings “Physics” 29 L This site looks to be very helpful. 30-32 [Pages sent] 33 U this isn't helpful Lines 30-32: the L continues pushing page after page without any direct interaction with the U whatsoever. Line 33: the U responds to the L with the statement, “this isn’t helpful,” which again is disconfirming to the L.

20 Findings “Physics” 34 L Well I really don't have any other resources that can assit you. 35 [Page sent] 36 I cannot answer the question for you, I don't have the physics knowledge. 37 Maybe you will need to ask your instructor for a clear understanding. Line 34: L responds to the U’s dissatisfaction with the help he or she is receiving This a disclaimer, and with other disclaimers on the part of the L in the physics transcript, are failures to make an appropriate referral for the U Line 35: The L again returns to sending a web page to the U This acts as another barrier in that it demonstrates that the L is ignoring what the U said, in that the web pages are not helpful. Line 37: L retorts “Maybe you will need to ask your instructor for a clear understanding.” Chastising Reprimanding Shows poor attitude All are direct face threats This is chastising and reprimanding of the U and functions to reprove the U for asking questions that lack clarity. This reprimand is again followed the L pushing another website to the U, which can be read as an insult in that is shows a poor attitude. These reprimands and insults are direct face threats which may result in futher shame-face for participants (Goffman, 1956).

21 Conclusion Goffman offers powerful way to gain insights into VR practice & understanding of interpersonal dynamics in CMC Physics transcript analysis reveals, similar to the FtF environment, importance of face-work, e.g., politeness rituals Expressions of deference & demeanor (Goffman, 1956), are important to success of VR encounters Physics transcript analysis reveals, similar to the FtF environment, importance of face-work, e.g., politeness rituals. Expressions of deference & demeanor (Goffman, 1956), are important to the success of chat VR encounters. Transcripts provide a means to unobtrusively observe how interpersonal rituals of face-work are maintained or violated in one type of goal-directed CMC environment Full conflict not evident in Physics transcript, yet each interactant produces face threats User & librarian failed to give reasonable amount of deference or face-saving Goffman (1967) maintained that face-saving activities are central to our interactions, however this transcript shows avoidance or corrective process to maintain face are not always found

22 Future Research Many questions involving participant’s perception of these interactions remain unanswered New grant: “Cyber Synergy” (10/11-9/13) for $250K Next analyze 500+ transcripts from 2010 Developing theoretical model based on Goffman Maturation of e-service encounters & IM growing more into mainstream is of interest to investigate evolution of negative face-work & face threat

23 End Notes This is one of the outcomes from the project
Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-User, & Librarian Perspectives Funded by IMLS, Rutgers University, & OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Web site: activities/synchronicity/default.htm 23

24 Questions & Comments?

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