Theories of CMC

Theories of CMC
Deficit Approaches and Models –
Impersonal Perspective
 Social Presence Theory
 Social Context Cues Theory
 Cuelessness Model
 Media Richness Model
Response to Deficit/Impersonal
 SIDE Model
 SIP Model
Social Presence Theory
 Degree to which we as individuals perceive
another as a real person and any
interaction between the two as a
 Different media convey different degrees of
perceived substance to an interaction
 Internet not functional alternative to FtF –
rather specialized channel
 People prefer FtF to meet most
communication needs
Social Context Cues Theory
 Social context cues are indicators of
appropriate behavior.
 Some social cues include geographic,
organizational, and situational
 Lack of social cues affects on the
nature of human behavior in
mediated contexts (Wood and Smith
Cuelessness Model
 Absence of all nonverbal cues and
identity markers (e.g., status,
occupational role)
 Psychological distance increases
resulting in more impersonal
 (Criticism) High in cuelessness can
still be psychologically close (Thurlow,
Lengel, and Tomic 49)
Media Richness Model
 Richness determined by:
 Bandwidth or ability to transmit multiple
 Ability to give immediate feedback
 Ability to support the use of natural or
conversational language
 Its personal focus (Thurlow 49)
 More complex the task the richer the
medium necessary (rich medium =
telephone or FtF communication)
Reduced Social Cues (RSC) Model
 Reduced social cues makes
interactions between people much
more difficult to manage
 Conversation becomes less fluid, less
easily regulated and more effortful
(Thurlow 61)
 CMC undermines social norms and
influences (Thurlow 61)
SIDE Model
 Social identification/deindividuation
 People online rely even more on
group-based discriminators.
 Users adopt norms (accepted social
 Anonymity fosters stronger “SIDE”
effects toward group mentality.
 Anonymity encourages stronger selfcategorization.
Social Information Processing
Model (SIP)
 Need for social bonding is the same in
CMC as it is in FtF communication
(communication imperative)
 People can compensate for loss of
non-verbal cues in CMC.
 Relational and contextual factors can
enhance interpersonal nature of CMC
(Thurlow 51)
Social Influence Model
 Media use results from negotiation
between features of medium and
social conditions (Wood and Smith
 Example: flaming – both behavior
and interpretation of behavior
Thurlow, Crispin, Lengel, Laura, and Tomic, Alice.
Computer Mediated Communication: Social Interaction
and the Internet. Sage Publications, 2005.
Wood, Andrew F. and Matthew J. Smith. Online
Communication: Linking Technology, Identity, and
Culture. Second Edition. Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, 2005.
Chapter 4, “Relating Online” (78-100)
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