More connections, less connection: An examination of the effects of computer-mediated communication on relationships.
Description: The impact of computer-mediated communication (CMC) on relational behavior is a topic of increasing interest to communication scholars (McQuillen, 2003; Tidwell & Walther, 2002). One of the most interesting issues that CMC raises concerns the impact of CMC on relational maintenance and development. Using dialectical theory, social exchange theory, social information processing theory, and the hyperpersonal perspective as theoretical frameworks, this study used quantitative and qualitative analyses to identity potential effects of CMC on relationships. Study 1 (n=317) examined the effects of CMC on relational closeness, satisfaction, and social support. Study 2 (n=196) explored the reasons individuals provide for privileging computer-mediated forms of communication, and the perceived effects of using CMC in relational communication. Results indicated that quality of CMC predicted increased perceptions of social support and relationship satisfaction. Results further suggested that CMC enabled participants to manage more effectively relational tensions of autonomy-connection and openness-closedness. Specifically, individuals used CMC to retain higher levels of conversational control, and to maintain greater numbers of relationships with decreased levels of investment. This paper concludes with a discussion of implications and directions for future research.
Date: December 2006
Creator: McGlynn, Joseph