Date of Graduation

8-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Denise R. Beike

Committee Member

Scott Eidelman

Second Committee Member

William Levine

Keywords

Social sciences; Communication and the arts; Psychology; Closeness; Computer-mediated communication; Relationship development; Self-disclosure; Strangers

Abstract

People use technology more today than ever before to self-disclose and form new relationships with others. Successful relationship development is often marked by the presence of positive interpersonal outcomes (i.e., closeness and liking). However, there is contention regarding whether computer-mediated communication (CMC) is as effective at developing positive interpersonal outcomes compared to face-to-face (FtF) communication. CMC is often considered subpar due to the lack of nonverbal cues that can be expressed. Two studies were designed to 1) compare the effect of FtF and CMC platform self-disclosures on closeness and liking in zero-acquaintance situations and 2) explore mediators that might explain why FtF and CMC produce closeness and liking. Both studies compared FtF, instant-messaging with a photo, and text-messaging. These conditions represent a continuum of nonverbal cues able to be expressed, with FtF allowing the most and text-messaging allowing the least. Participants in Study 1 self-disclosed via a getting-acquainted exercise, whereas participants in Study 2 had two free-form conversations. Self-disclosures in the FtF condition produced the greatest closeness compared to the CMC conditions. However, after the second conversation in Study 2, there were no differences in interpersonal outcomes across platform type. Potential mediators (i.e., responsive, similarity, ease of processing, and enjoyment of the interaction) were also examined to explain why increases in self-disclosure lead to closeness and liking. Limitations are discussed.

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