This study explores whether the attributes listed in the literature on flaming in email are considered characteristic of flaming by actual email users. Through the creation of a semantic differential scale—called the Message Invectives Scale—the study took eight concepts found in more than 20 research articles on flaming and examined email users’ responses to a set of 20 messages in relation to those eight characteristics. Findings indicate that in each of the 20 cases, six of the original eight concepts relate to each other to form a common set, which also correlates positively with perceptions of flaming. Some of the messages that scored high for flaming contained profanity, all capital letters, excessive exclamation points or question marks, indicating that these attributes also relate to flaming. Based on these findings, recommendations are advanced as to how email should be used to avoid negative attributes that can lead to organizational conflict.
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