Shyness, sociability, and the role of media synchronicity in the use of computer-mediated communication for interpersonal communication


  • A version of this paper was presented at the 59th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, 2009.

Michael Chan, Division of Language Studies, Community College of City University, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Email:


This study analysed how university students in Hong Kong with varying degrees of shyness and sociability utilized computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies for interpersonal communication. As spontaneous communication can increase the workload on working memory and accentuate feelings of social anxiety, it was hypothesized that shy students were more likely to use email and social network sites (asynchronous CMC) more frequently, and instant messaging and chat less (synchronous CMC). Results from an online questionnaire provided partial support for the hypotheses and suggested distinctive usage patterns separated by media synchronicity. Moreover, the analyses revealed a significant interaction between shyness and sociability on asynchronous CMC use.