On-Line Smiles: Does Gender Make a Difference in the Use of Graphic Accents?


  • Diane F. Witmer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Diane F. Witmer (PhD, MA, MS, University of Southern California, BS, University of La Verne) is an assistant professor of communication at Purdue University. Her practical experience includes both corporate and not-for-profit public relations, and she holds Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) accreditation. Dr. Witmer's research interests include computer-mediated communication and organizational communication, and she has been instrumental in the development and maintenance of a several World Wide Web sites. She is an active member of the International Communication Association, Speech Communication Association, Central States Communication Association, Public Relations Society of America, and Communication Institute for Online Scholarship.
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  • Sandra Lee Katzman

    Corresponding author
    1. Sandra Katzman, an independent journalist and communication researcher, teaches English in Japan. She is a pioneer of the University of California at Santa Cruz (BA cum laude English Literature), and studied social science at Stanford University (MA Communication). Her editorial opinion articles appear in The Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee.
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Address: Department of Communication, Purdue University, Liberal Arts & Education Building, 2114, West Lafayette IN 47907-1366, USA.

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In the gender-bending world of computer-mediated communication (CMC), is it possible to determine the gender of a message sender from cues in the message? This study addresses the question by drawing on current literature to formulate and test three hypotheses: (i) women use more graphic accents than men do in their CMC, (ii) men use more challenging language in CMC than do women, and (iii) men write more inflammatory messages than do women. Results indicate that only the first hypothesis is partially supported and that women tend to challenge and flame more than do men in this sample group. The authors also discuss implications and pose questions for additional research.