Computer-Mediated Communication Effects on Disclosure, Impressions, and Interpersonal Evaluations: Getting to Know One Another a Bit at a Time

Authors


about this article should be addressed to Joseph B. Walther, Department of Communication, 336 Kennedy Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4203.

Abstract

This investigation examined how computer-mediated communication (CMC) partners exchange personal information in initial interactions, focusing on the effects of communication channels on self-disclosure, question-asking, and uncertainty reduction. Unacquainted individuals (N = 158) met either face-to-face or via CMC. Computer-mediated interactants exhibited a greater proportion of more direct and intimate uncertainty reduction behaviors than unmediated participants did, and demonstrated significantly greater gains in attributional confidence over the course of the conversations. The use of direct strategies by mediated interactants resulted in judgments of greater conversational effectiveness by partners. Results illuminate some microstructures previously asserted but unverified within social information processing theory (Walther, 1992), and extend uncertainty reduction theory (Berger & Calabrese, 1975) to CMC interaction.

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