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Online Communication Chapter 4 Relating Online Online Communication In this chapter, you will learn: The theoretical perspectives on online relationships; How limited nonverbal cues affect online interaction; How identification with group norms helps build acceptance; How some people perceive online communication as more rewarding than that in real life; and Challenges with managing both professional and intimate online relationships. Online Communication Three Perspectives Impersonal Interpersonal Hyperpersonal Walther, J. B. (1996). CMC: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23 (1), 3-43. Online Communication The Impersonal Perspective Some scholars note that the lack of nonverbal cues in mediated channels limits the depths of to which relationships can develop. With these cues filtered out, social presence theory suggests that we perceive our mediated partners as less real to those we interact with face-to-face. Online Communication The Impersonal Perspective Sproull and Kiesler suggest that the nonverbal cues people receive from others help them to observe social norms. Without these social context cues in mediated channels, people can act in less inhibited and less socially approved ways. Online Communication The Impersonal Perspective Critics of the impersonal perspective point out that Internet users try to compensate for a lack of nonverbal cues by using various emoticons to punctuate meaning. They also argue that because there are limits on the information available to partners, it may just take longer for relationships to develop. Online Communication Emoticons Verbalizing <yawn> Descriptions *I knock* Stress PLEASE go! Smileys ;-) Online Communication The Interpersonal Perspective Scholars adopting an interpersonal perspective suggest that we look beyond physicality in order to understand how people relate to one another. One explanation for how people build relationships in the absence of physical cues is found in the SIDE model. Online Communication The Interpersonal Perspective Social Identification Deindividuation The SIDE model suggests that interpersonal attraction and social acceptance come from identification with group norms. Postumes, T., Spears, R., & Lea, M. (1998). Breaching or building social boundaries? Side-effects of CMC. Communication Research, 25, 689-716. Online Communication The Hyperpersonal Perspective Walther proposes that for some people, communicating online allows them to find a voice that they could not access in face-to-face communication. Four sources seem to contribute to the perception of a hyperpersonal experience. Online Communication The Hyperpersonal Perspective The sender has greater control The receiver can overestimate qualities in the sender The channel, being synchronous or asynchronous, affects interaction Feedback can build an “intensification loop” between the partners Online Communication Managing Online Relationships Working relationships are increasingly conducted through mediated channels. Users must be careful that messages are not interpreted as hostile flames. People also look for romantic relationships online. Partners should be mindful that the emotional intimacy of a cyberaffair can be just as damaging as the physical intimacy of a real life affair. Online Communication Flaming Flaming is as much about a behavior as it is the perception of a behavior. According to the social influence model, we learn how to flame and how to interpret what messages are flames to us. Online Communication A Brief Review 1. According to the impersonal perspective, why do people seem less real and more uninhibited online? 2. What two counterpoints are offered to the impersonal perspective? 3. What processes are involved in the SIDE model? 4. How does each of the four components in the hyperpersonal perspective contribute to the experience? 5. What are two issues of concern with online relationships?