Social Information Processing Theory

November 3rd, 2010

SIPT explicitly assumes that individuals are motivated to form impressions and develop relationships of some kind, no matter what medium they are using (394).

Walther, Joseph B., Leslie A. Baxter, and Dawn O. Braithewaite. “Social Information Processing Theory.” Engaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication: Multiple Perspectives. Eds. Baxter, Leslie A. and Dawn O. Braithewaite. Thousand Oaks, CA US: Sage Publications, Inc, 2008. 391-404.

Earlier this year, I touched on the Social Information Processing Perspective (SIPP). However, this post delves a bit more into this theory of Joseph Walther.

In this 2008 article (Chapter), Walther references his 1992 Social information Processing Theory (SIPT) of Computer-Mediated-Communication (CMC) with special focus on the development of relationships online. “The SIPT of CMC explains how people get to know one another online, without nonverbal cues, and how they develop and manage relationships in the computer-mediated environment (Walther, 1992)” (391). Because the relationships he discusses are largely based on textual interaction, this work is not directly relevant to my research on online video conversation. However, it is not without relevance and worth. Read the rest of this entry »

Equilibrium Theory – Argyle & Dean

July 8th, 2010

Argyle, M., & Dean, J. (1965). Eye contact, distance, and affiliation. Sociometry, 28, 289- 304.

Argyle, M., & Cook, M. (1976). Gaze and mutual gaze. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Uni- versity Press.

Another example of the discussion on whether there is a certain level of interchangeability of verbal and non-verbal cues of immediacy in the realm of online (or CMC) communication is Argyle and Dean’s 1965 affiliative conflict (or equilibrium) theory. As Joseph Walther explains, “Equilibrium theory posits that communicators dynamically adapt levels of gaze, physical proximity, and other behaviors indicative of intimacy to normative levels based on culture and need for affiliation (Argyle & Cook, 1976).” (41).

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Interchangeability of Verbal and Nonverbal Cues – Walther

July 7th, 2010

Walther, J. B., Loh, T., & Granka, L. (2005). Let me count the ways – The interchange of verbal and nonverbal cues in computer-mediated and face-to-face affinity. [Article]. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 24(1), 36-65.

That CMC does not offer nonverbal cues in communication has been discussed by most early research on online communication and CMC. I addressed this point in my last three posts. While published almost ten years later than the last Walther article I reviewed, even in this article I am now reviewing, he still considers CMC refer to text-based communication, that which does not include non-verbal cues. I find that in our current stage of multimedia and multimodal online communication, any definition of CMC should really include online synchronous audio communication and also audio-video communication conducted online through either synchronous or asynchronous means. This point is highly relevant, since this article takes this lack of social cues as a given of CMC and considers how social interaction meaning is affected by this lack and whether users make up for it by other means. Read the rest of this entry »

Computer-Mediated Communication: Hyperpersonal – Walther

July 6th, 2010

Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23(1), 3-43.

In the last few posts, I discussed this Walther article and the ways in which computer-mediated communication (CMC) can be more impersonal than face-to-face (FtF) communication and the ways in which it can been as interpersonal as FtF. In this third (and final) post on this Walther article, I look at his consideration of the hyperpersonal perspective of CMC. This idea refers to the way in which CMC is even more personal than (surpassing the affection and emotion level of) FtF communication. He states that these situations in which we find CMC more desirable than FtF is generally in a recreational setting and relate to four different elements of the communication process: receivers, senders, characteristics of the channel, and feedback processes. Read the rest of this entry »

Computer-Mediated Communication: Interpersonal – Walther

July 5th, 2010

Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23(1), 3-43.

Continuing from the Last post, after considering the impersonal perspective of CMC, Walther goes on to look at the interpersonal perspective. “The model assumes that communicators in CMC, like other communicators, are driven to develop social relationships” (10). While this is true of text-based social settings like chat rooms (not so popular now, but certainly so in the mid-to-late 1990s), it can be seen to be even more accurate now with communication occurring through social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook,, etc. Read the rest of this entry »