Computer Mediated Communication: The Impact of ICT Usage on Non-Platonic
Kayla Hales and Bridget Blodgett (Graduate Students)
This paper is based on a project from the "Psychological Aspects of Communication Technology" graduate course.
Dr. S. Shyam Sundar
Interpersonal relationships are one of the most essential elements of
life. Once established, it is necessary that they be maintained. With
the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), a new
communication culture has emerged. This new form of communication (Computer
Mediated Communication - CMC) is a type of relational maintenance strategy
currently being overlooked in the literature. Yet, as CMC is becoming
more prevalent, it is becoming increasingly important that we study its
influence on sustaining interpersonal relationships.
- RQ1: How do media affordances influence the use of relational maintenance
- RQ2: How does written and vocal electronic communication with one’s
partner influence relationship quality?
- RQ3: How do individuals and their communication with their partner vary
in relation to their use of relational maintenance behaviors?
Respondents for this study consisted of 123 undergraduate students from
two universities in the northeastern United States. However, 15 respondents
indicated that they were not a member of a non-platonic relationship.
Therefore, no data were collected from these individuals. Additionally,
52 respondents did not fully complete the survey. Therefore, for the purpose
of this study, N=56. Students from The Pennsylvania State University (67.90%)
were recruited via classes in the College of Communication and The College
of Information Sciences and Technology. Some students received class credit
for participating. Students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (32.10%)
were recruited via electronic mail. Females constituted 67% of the sample,
leaving the male percentage at 33%; one participant did not indicate gender.
There were significant ties between media choice and the use of relational
maintenance behaviors. These ties are influenced by the perceived affordances
of the medium that the individuals choose to communicate through. However,
many of the media seem to support vocal communication behaviors more than
they do the written communication behaviors. The demographics of the sample
popular also seem to have some impact on what modality and media a couple
will use in their communications.
The synchronicity of media played a large role in individuals’ choices
on which relational maintenance behaviors are used. Other perceived affordances
also had some interaction with the behaviors however they were not found
as strongly across the board. In addition, media that have a longer history
of usage for maintaining relationships are used more frequently and have
a stronger tie to the maintenance strategies. However, this strength is
tied to the modality of the original medium. Individuals that used one
type of modality increasing preferred that modality for all their behaviors,
shying away from the other modalities that may be available.