SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

This article examines the spatial relationships between avatars (i.e., graphical identities or icons) over time in a 2-dimensional online chat environment. The Spatial Distance Analysis Program (SDAP) was developed to measure the distance between avatars in a specially designed Palace environment. Correlations between distance and interpersonal communication constructs of (1) conversational appropriateness, (2) social attraction, and (3) uncertainty reduction indicate that distance effects are significant in an online environment. Specifically, it was found that general conversational appropriateness mediated between uncertainty reduction and specific conversational appropriateness for individuals who moved closer together and farther apart over time, respectively. Furthermore, the relationship between social attraction and distance indicated a significant positive parabolic function; that social attraction (i.e., liking) decreased at middle distances and increased at low and high distances. This finding suggests that there are three interpersonal distance zones in online communication.