CMC and social information processing in a work context : a qualitative approach

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Title: CMC and social information processing in a work context : a qualitative approach
Author: Lindqvist, Antti
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies
Date: 2010-03-18
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: The topic of this research is Computer-Mediated Communication, electronic mail (e-mail) communication more precisely. This research has multiple purposes. Firstly this research represents an empirical and qualitative verification of the Social Information Processing Theory (SIPT) in an organizational context. Proposed by Walther at the beginning of the 1990s, the SIPT was a counter strike aimed at research from the 1980s which suggested that because of a lack of non-verbal cues, email, was unsuited to interpersonal communication, leading to anti-social and task-oriented communication. This research, then, contradicts this earlier view of email communication. The second focus, or purpose, of this research was on the non-verbal cues used in email communication to form impressions of email partners as well as on the use of non-verbal cues to send impressions. This central facet of the SIPT has thus far been understudied in academic literature. Thirdly, the current research aimed to shed light on the use of supplementary sources of information in impression formation. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews. Six employees of a large Finnish multinational firm were all interviewed twice. The employees represent an international team with members in three different countries, who communicate primarily by email. The interviews were structured around the Social Information Processing Theory so that the different components of the theory were all discussed in the interviews. The transcribed interview data was analyzed using qualitative content analysis, the process which, was structured around the cues used to form impressions. Relevant cases in the data were identified and classified until meaningful categories emerged. The main results of the current research are twofold. Firstly the research verified the robustness of the Social Information Processing Theory to model email communication in an organizational context. The SIPT was developed with social communication in mind, but it is also able to describe the process of impression formation in a work environment. Secondly the results of the current research demonstrate the central role of contextual or inferential non-verbal cues in impression formation. The communicators studied in this research all share the same organizational context, which has a profound impact on the cues used to form impressions. Whereas previous research has concentrated primarily on more concrete cues (such as the use of smileys), the results of the current research are an important step in elaborating the SIPT specifically with regard to contextual non-verbal cues. References Walther, J. (1992) Interpersonal Effects in Computer-Mediated Interaction- A Relational Perspective. Communication Research, 19, 52-90. Walther, J. & Parks, M. (2002). Cues Filtered Out, Cues Filtered in: Computer-Mediated Communication and Relationships. Walther, J. & Tidwell, L. (1995). Nonverbal Cues in Computer-Mediated Communication, and the Effect of Chronemics on Relational Communication. Culnan, M. & Markus, M. (1987). Information Technologies Sproull, L. & Kiesler, S. (1986). Reducing Social Context Cues: Electronic Mail in Organizational Communication. Tyler, J. & Tang, J. (2003). When can I Expect an Email Response? A Study of Rhythms in Email Usage.
Description: Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen ( Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database ( Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta ( Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.
Subject: Computer-mediated Communication
Social Information Processing Theory
Qualitative Content Analysis
tietokonevälitteinen viestintä
Discipline: Social Psychology

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