Media Richness Theory

Again, I am merely touching on this theory due to the fact that I am this week discussing Junghyun Kim’s 2003 article in which he discusses this and other media theories. Soon, I will elaborate on this theory, including the subsequent Media Synchronicity and Media Naturalness theories.

Media richness theory, proposed by Daft and Lengel in 1984, essentially states that task performance increases when the task needs are matched to the medium’s richness. Additionally, the theory suggests that individuals predictably favor the use of specific communication media to perform certain tasks. Specifically, that rich media are a more likely to be found appropriate for “equivocal” communication, which occurs more in complex tasks. Daft and Lengel define the richness of media as the ability of information to change understanding within a time interval. The theory argues that the richness of media differs between media types, with face-to-face communication being richer than communicating via email, for example.

Kim associates this theory with the impersonal interaction perspective and notes that media richness theory “evaluates the degree of interpersonal interaction according to communication technology (e.g. bandwidth and network) or number of cue systems available during the communication process.” (Kim 6). Essentially, the more natural the language is perceived to be, the richer is the medium (Daft & Lengel, 1984). This last idea plays more into the theory of media naturalness, which is a solid portion of my own research, since media richness is the theory to which media synchronicity theory was a response to which media naturalness theory was a response. It is this latter theory that applies most to my research of the OVC.

Kim, Junghyun. “Interpersonal Interaction in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) : Exploratory Qualitative Research based on Critical Review of the Existing Theories” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2003.

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