Developing an optimal match within online communities: an exploration of CMC support communities and traditional support

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Abstract

This study investigates the complementary nature of face-to-face and computer-mediated social support and the development of a context through which hyperpersonal communication can develop within online communities. Optimal matching theory is used as a framework for explaining how hyperpersonal communication develops within online cancer support communities. We compared online participants' perceptions of illness support from the list with the support they received from a nonmediated relationship. Respondents participated more within the online community only when they perceived that the depth and support that they received from the online community was high, and when the depth and support they received from the specific person in their life was low.

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