Year of Publication

2010

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department

Family Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Werner-Wilson

Abstract

This mixed method study examined differences in how face to face (FtF) and computer-mediated communication (CMC) were experienced for individuals communicating with their romantic partner. Forty-four individuals (22 couples) engaged in discussions in both FtF and CMC conditions in a laboratory environment, measuring communication satisfaction as an indicator of experience. Eight couples were also randomly selected to participate in interviews and their reports were used to add depth to the analyses and further inform the findings. Participants reported similar levels of satisfaction across communication conditions, which extends previous literature suggesting that users are able to adapt to text-based channels of communication to a degree that naturalness similar to that of FtF is achieved. Analyses also indicated a positive relationship between attitudes towards CMC use and history of CMC use. This relationship is discussed in terms of symbolic interactionism theory. Communication satisfaction item analysis and interview reports suggest that couples have varying attitudes and uses for CMC. Some couples report a hesitancy to use CMC given the lack of non-verbal cues and risk of miscommunication while other couples report that CMC is helpful in facilitating de-escalation of conflict and allowing partners to communicate more effectively around sensitive issues.

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