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Social Psychological Aspects of Computer-Mediated Communication

by Sara Kiesler, Sara Kiesler, Jane Siegel, Jane Siegel, T W McGuire, T W McGuire


As more and more people use computers for communicating, the behavioral and societal effects of computer-mediated communication are becoming critical research topics. This article describes some of the issues raised by electronic communication, illustrates one empirical approach for investigating its social psychological effects, and discusses why social psychological research might contribute to a deeper understanding of computer-mediated communication specifically and of computers and technological change in society more generally. One objective of our research is to explore how people participate in computer-mediated communication and how computerization affects group efforts to reach consensus. In experiments, we have shown differences in participation, decisions, and interaction among groups meeting face to face and in simultaneious computer-linked discourse and communication by electronic mail. We discuss these results and the design of subsequent research to highlight the many researchable social psychological issues raised by computing and technological change.

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