Computer-Mediated
Communication
Self-presentation, interpersonal
perception, and deception
Coye Cheshire & Andrew Fiore
//
25 January 2012
The basic stuff: readings, website, etc…
Office hours:
305A South Hall
Wednesday 1:30 to 2:30 pm
Course reader — for what’s not online
At Copy Central (2560 Bancroft at Telegraph)
Class mailing list (directions on course
homepage)
[email protected]
Web site — syllabus and readings (password)
http://courses.ischool.berkeley.edu/i216/s12/
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Weekly reviews
 Two short reviews required per week.
 “Short but informative.” Think of a good online review
(Yelp, Amazon.com, etc.). A few paragraphs is sufficient.
Be honest but be specific.
 Critique, explore, examine — no need to summarize.
 Due by 5pm every Tuesday. No Exceptions!
 Reviews are an important part of discussion. We will wrap
them into our lectures and slides.
 30% of your grade — can’t pass the class without them.
 Course password: ************
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Mailing List:
[email protected]
https://calmail.berkeley.edu/manage/list
[email protected]
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Identity: “Who am I?”
Identity consists of personal identity + social identity
 Social identity often based on group affiliations
Paradigm shift in conceptions of identity —
Modern (Enlightenment through 20th century)
 Fixed, stable, unitary
Post-Modern (now)
 Fluid, multiple, socially constructed
 Different roles in different settings: “One wakes up as a lover, makes
breakfast as a mother, and drives to work as a lawyer.”
— Sherry Turkle
 Different contexts make different aspects of our identity more salient:
e.g., a classroom, party, church, or family dinner.
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Identity Theory (Sociology)
Identity Theory (e.g., Stryker 1980)
Individuals have “role identities”: character
and the role an individual devises as an
occupant of a particular social position.
‘Self’ is hierarchical ordering of
identities by salience. The greater the
commitment on an identity, the greater
the salience of the identity. Salience of
identity influences behavioral choices in
a situation.
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When and where do you “activate” your
identity?
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Social Identity Theory (Psychology)
Social Identity Theory
(e.g., Tajfel et al. 1981; Turner 1985)
How group membership and
“belongingness” have
consequences for interpersonal
and intergroup relations. As one
looks for a positive sense of self,
they compare their group with
other groups and tend to create
a favorable distinction for their
own group
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Photo credit: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/10176597-419/kyle-williamsfumbles-away-49ers-chance-at-super-bowl.html
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“Minimal Group” Paradigm
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Identity and the internet
 Disembodiment: identity/soul/spirit separate from
physical body
 CMC allows us to adopt identities independent
from our bodies (and the markers they contain)
 Sherry Turkle (1995): “[On the Internet] you can
be whoever you want to be. You can completely
redefine yourself if you want. [People] don’t look
at your body and make assumptions. They don’t
hear your accent and make assumptions. All they
see are your words.”
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Self-presentation and identity
 Symbolic markers express our identity to others —
and help us make sense of it ourselves
 Signals of who we are
(or want to be, or want people to think we are)
 Offline: clothes, hair, body modifications
 Online?
 Identity is socially constructed and informed by our
relations with others — what they think of us, what we
think of them, how we think of ourselves.
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A brief introduction to
Symbolic Interaction
“The character of interaction as it takes place between human beings.”
Herbert Blumer (1900-1987) developed much of the sociological
approach to SI
Long history of development in both philosophy and sociology
In essence: people act toward things based on
the meaning those things have for them; and
these meanings are derived from social
interaction and modified through interpretation”
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Core Features of SI
Symbols…
Change…
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Core Features of SI
Interaction…
Empirical…
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However: note
the focus on the
micro-level
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Goffman’s approach and focus
How individuals create and
maintain their “social self”
Dramaturgical approach:
Uses theater and drama as
a metaphor for how we
develop and present
ourselves
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http://media.knoxnews.com/media/img/photos/2010/08/11/090110bjheroleahy_t607.jpg
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Frontstage and backstage
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More key concepts from Goffman
“Sincere” vs. “cynical”
“Idealization”
“Definition of the situation”
“Expressions given”
“Expressions given off”
“Impression management”
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Expressions “given” and “given off”
Goffman discusses two types of
expressions:
“given” (intentional)
“given off” (unintentional)
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Group discussion
 Take a moment individually and think of one or two roles
that you play in your life that you feel are core to your
identity.
 Get together with your group to discuss:
 What aspects of these roles do you perform differently due to the
qualities of the communication medium you’re using?
 Are some media better-suited for performing some roles? If so,
why?
 Pick one or two roles from your group where the
communication medium makes a difference in how it’s
performed to share with the class.
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Social order through interaction?
Goffman argues that social order can be an
outcome of our symbolic interactions…
What are some examples of how this “social
order” might occur (in CMC or other
‘mediated’ situations)?
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What is the “setting” in
CMC interaction?
Where does it come from?
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“
The online world is a wholly built environment.
The architects of a virtual space — from the
software designers to the site administrators —
shape the community in a more profound way
than do their real-world counterpart. People eat,
sleep, and work in buildings; the buildings affect
how happily they do these things. But the
buildings do not completely control their
perception of the world. In the electronic domain,
the design of the environment is everything.
”
— Donath
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“The problem with 'The Presentation of Self in
Everyday Life' and the use of it in the discussion
of CMC and identity, is that his dramaturgical
metaphors are manifested in analogue examples
and not intended for being use online. This is
evident when talking about backstage - at home
with no physical presence of people – and this is
most often where we are when commutating with
other people online” -Morten
“I wonder if sociologists like Goffman who write
about basic human functions or interactions
ever take a step back and wonder, as I often do,
what exactly the value is that is being added.
Do they question it?” -Monica
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Signaling
 Assessment signals
 Handicap (costly) signals
 Index signals
 Conventional signals
 Cost of signaling, cost of assessing
 What are some more examples of signals?
 At a bar, on IM, in online dating, on Facebook?
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Costs and benefits for sender
Costs
 Production
 Risk
 Punishment
Benefits
 Signaling: Changing observer’s beliefs
 Functional: Hedonic and utilitarian
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Costs and benefits for receiver
Costs
 Assessment
 Being deceived
by a dishonest signal
Benefits
 Signaling: Learning about the sender
 Functional: Again, hedonic and utilitarian
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How does signaling differ
online and offline?
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Just for fun
 Passport to the Pub:
A guide to British pub etiquette
 http://www.sirc.org/publik/pub.html
 Guide to Flirting
 http://www.sirc.org/publik/flirt.html
Both from Social Issues Research Centre.
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Deception
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Digital deception
“The intentional control of
information in a technologically
mediated message to create a
false belief in the receiver of the
message.”
 Deliberate
 Designed to mislead or create a
false belief
 Information communicated
through technological mediation
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Identity…ambiguity vs. deception
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Expression and Interpretation
 Recall: Donath (1999) ties both voice
and language to Erving Goffman’s
concepts of “expressions given” and
“expressions given off”:
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For Example: Deception, Norms
and Perception in Photos
 Lauren Session’s study of
MySpace photos (2009)
 Users who post these
photographs are conforming to
a social trend at the expense of
their individuality
 The presentation of these
photographs is narcissistic
 These photographs purposefully
conceal the body
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The classic “down shirt” MySpace photo.
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Profile-based
Self-Presentation
Observed
Self-Presentation
In lab measure:
•Height
•Weight
•Age
•Income
•Photograph
Cross-Validation
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Deception?
(Hancock et al. 2007)
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Deception?
(Hancock et al. 2007)
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Deception?
(Hancock et al. 2007)
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Types of digital deception
 Identity-based
 Stems from false manipulation of
person or organization
 Message-based
 Takes place in communication
between dyads or larger groups
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Identity-based deception
 Turkle pointed out that it’s easy to assume
new identities online due to anonymity and
multiple modes of social interaction.
 We use signals (screen names, language) to
establish our identities online.
 It is relatively easy to manipulate these signals to
falsely represent ourselves.
 Donath distinguishes between assessment
and conventional signals
 Assessment signals are more expensive to
maintain (harder to fake)
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Types of identity deception
 Trolling: posing as a legitimate community
member
 Category deception: membership in a
social group (male vs. female, black vs.
white, Berkeley vs. Stanford student)
 Identity concealment: deception by
omission or hiding of identity information
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The Strange Case of the Electronic Lover
 Male psychiatrist, Alex, created female
online persona, Joan.
 Formed intimate online friendships with
women on CompuServe chat channels.
 Initiated real-life romantic relationship with
one of them (Alex “introduced” by Joan).
Is this right or wrong?
A legitimate or illegitimate use of CMC?
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The Deception in the Message…
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How is deception different online and offline?
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Think of lie you told today or yesterday.
What medium did it take place in?
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Lying in different communication media
In which medium will we lie most?
1. FtF interaction
2. Phone
3. Instant Messaging
4. Email
Why?
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Examining deceptive behavior
 Participants recorded social interactions and lies
for 7 days with the Social Interaction & Lie form
 Each social interaction (greater than 10 min)
 Which medium (FtF, phone, IM, email, chat, etc.)
 Whether or not they lied
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Results — Hancock et al.
% of interactions involving a lie
37%
27%
21%
14%
FtF
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Phone
Instant
Email
Message
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Feature-based approach
Media features
FtF
Phone
IM
Synchronous
X
X
X*
Recordless
X
X
X*
X
X
X
Distributed
(not copresent)
Email
Lying predictions
Feature-based
2
1
2
3
Media Richness
1
2
3
4
Social Distance
4
3
2
1
* Usually
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Predictions based on features
 The more recordable the medium (papertrail), the less likely people are to lie.
 The more synchronous and distributed (but
not recordable), the more lying will occur:





Phone
FtF
IM
Email
Others?
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most
least
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“It was surprising to me that a diary study
about the mediums of deception found that
participants lied most frequently on the phone.
I would've thought that lying in emails, chat,
or other forms of indirect communication
where the two people can neither hear nor
see each other is much more common than
on the phone or face-to-face” - Wei
“I don't agree that deception in person is as
straightforward as he claims. While there are
visual cues, body language and the ability to
infer from your interaction, being able to judge
deception F2F can be just as complex if there is
no prior relationship or history with the other
person” - Kristine
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Deception as an aspect of “Media Richness”
 Media ‘richness’ is
only a singular
dimension that may
mask the complexity
of choice, behavior
and inference of
purpose.
Image: Time Barrow Dissertation Research,
http://blog.timebarrow.com/2009/09/media-richness-theory/
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Other Dimensions:
 Synchronicity
 Recordability
 Distribution of
Speaker/Listener
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What about the content of lies?
Another Hancock et al. diary study:
 More lies about feelings in synchronous interaction
(because feelings are more likely to come up)
 More lies about explanations in asynchronous
media (more time to plan and construct)
 More lies about actions on the telephone (where
people can’t see what you’re doing)
 No difference across media in lies about facts
(might have expected more in recordless media)
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Do we use language differently
when we lie?
 In asynchronous, text-based interaction:
Liars used more words, were more expressive,
non-immediate and informal, and made more
typos (Zhou et al. 2004).
 Similar in synchronous IM interaction:
More words and fewer self-references
 Those lied to also IMed differently, even when
they didn’t realize the deceit:
Shorter sentences, more questions.
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Detecting deception
 Most people (even trained professionals,
like police officers) detect deception at no
better than a chance rate
 Some reliable markers of lying: Illustrative and
other body movements, higher pitch,
microexpressions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXm6YbXxSYk
 These are hard to detect online, esp. in text
 People highly motivated to lie may be
easier to detect (i.e., trying harder may give
you away) — “motivation impairment
effect”
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Detecting deception
 No consistent findings about whether
certain media make it easier or harder to
detect deception
 In some studies, it’s easier in richer media; in
others, in leaner media or no difference.
 However, the motivation impairment effect may
be lessened in CMC — less is “given off”:
Hancock et al. (2005): Motivated liars detected more
often than unmotivated ones in FtF, but less often in
CMC. Motivated CMC liars least detected of all.
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For next Wednesday…
Community, Online and Offline
 Cohen, A.P. (1985) Chapters 1 and 3 from The Symbolic
Construction of Community. London: Routledge. (In reader.)
 Haythornthwaite, C. (2007) Social networks and online community. In
Joinson, A., McKenna, K., Postmes, T., and U-D. Reips (Eds.) The
Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology. Oxford, England: Oxford
University Press. (In reader.)
 McKenna, K.Y.A. (2008) Influences on the nature and functioning of
online groups. In A. Barak (Ed.), Psychological aspects of
cyberspace: Theory, research, applications. Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press.
Remember to write your reviews!
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