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Keywords:

  • Social relationships;
  • face-to-face interaction;
  • computer-mediated communication;
  • happiness;
  • laughter;
  • media naturalness theory;
  • social information processing theory

Abstract

Media naturalness theory and social information processing theory make competing predictions regarding the effectiveness of different modes of communication at creating and maintaining emotionally intense social relationships. We explored how the duration of interaction and the form of laughter influenced happiness in communication modes with different levels of media naturalness. Forty-one participants completed a 14-day contact diary, recording interactions across face-to-face, Skype, telephone, instant messaging, texting, and e-mail/social network sites. Increases in duration of interaction positively predicted happiness only for face-to-face interactions, offering partial support for the media naturalness hypothesis. Laughter positively predicted happiness in all but one of the communication modes, with real and symbolic laughter having similar effects, a result consistent with the social information processing theory.