Running Head: COMPUTER-MEDIATED COMMUNICATION: A RESPONSE
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): A Response to the
Social Information Processing Perspective
This paper examines one of the fastest growing communication technologies.
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has long been the source scholarly
inquiry. One of the most substantial theories to explain CMC effects is the
social information processing perspective. The social information processing
perspective describes how the rate of message exchange creates high levels of
impression formation in CMC participants. The present paper explores the social
information processing perspective and charts a new course for CMC research.
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): A Response to the
Social Information Processing Perspective
It appears that nearly every new communication technology arrives with
considerable fanfare concerning how the innovation will reinvent the way that we
communicate. Marshall McLuhan (1967) would argue that all new communication
technology is perceived in reference to the old technology supposedly being
replaced; so that, no technology is never really "new," but always an extension
of the old.
Essentially, all communication technology serves to replicate face-to-face
(FTF) communication. Even with various faults, face-to-face (FTF) communication
continuously supplies FTF participants with more nonverbal and contextual
information than any mediated channel could ever successfully carry. Nonverbal
information refers to gestures and paralinguistic cues that most often accompany
verbal messages; whereas, contextual information is data concerning the
participants environment. Typically in FTF communication, each participant can
experience the other person's rhetoric, physical appearance, nonverbals, and
even scent. Presently, there is no mediated channel that has the capability to
capture the majority of these elements and transmit them in real-time to each
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is one of the latest of these
technologies to mimic FTF interaction. At present, there are two types of
computer-mediated communication (CMC). The difference between the two stems from
their distinct temporal relationships. Asynchronous computer-mediated
communication (ACMC) is communication in which two or more individuals do not
have a continuous temporal relationship. Probably, the most familiar type of
asynchronous computer-mediated communication (ACMC) is electronic mail. ACMC
merely requires each participant to compose his/her message and send it to the
recipient's server or mainframe. The recipient can access the message within a
few moments or a few months. In contrast, synchronous computer-mediated
communication (SCMC) necessitates both participants being in front of a computer
terminal at the same time--a continuous temporal relationship much like a
telephone conversation. With the help of specific software, participants in
synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) can actually see the
composition of the messages on the terminal screen.
By all means, the most important aspect of CMC is its potential to dominate
modern communication in the near future. Take as evidence Moore's Law, which
states that the cost of computing will continually fall as the speed of
micro-processing will rise. Thus, in twenty years a personal computer (PC) will
cost a consumer one-hundred dollars, and will be two-hundred times faster than
any current personal computer (PC). Although physical limitations may intrude
upon this scenario, Moore's Law has remained constant since the 1960s. With
this in mind, micro-processing may one day be relatively free, and even the most
impoverished homes will have an internet-ready PC on their table.
CMC research has a nearly twenty-year history; early investigations found that
the PC acts as a "filter" distilling out much of the information individuals use
in order to form relationships comparable to FTF interactions. Chesebro &
Bonsall (1989) described that in CMC, "...all nonverbal cues are eliminated.
Beyond eliminating facial expressions and other aspects of physical appearance,
computer connections also eliminate the personality cues people can derive from
the epistolary communications..." (p. 117). Conclusions drawn from this
research, were that the participants failed to build relationships as
effectively when compared to FTF interactions. CMC participants would also
become extremely frustrated by the limited amount of information that could be
transacted in CMC.
The social information processing perspective has been the major rebuttal to
the nonverbal and contextual "cues filtered out" position. Proposed by Joseph
B. Walther, the social information processing perspective holds that CMC
participants do in fact transmit and receive adequate amounts of nonverbal and
contextual information over time. Consequently, longitudinal studies would
reflect increased familiarity and effectiveness between CMC participants.
The present paper traces the history of CMC research, and then chronicle the
social information processing perspective. After reviewing past CMC research,
this paper introduces an alternate explanation for the findings of Walther and
the conclusion that he has drawn.
A Brief History of CMC Research
With the introduction of analog teleconferencing in the 1960s, the first
research concerning its individual and societal impacts began to appear. Early
on, researchers saw that teletype, telephone and video conferencing changed the
communicative styles of the participants. Most often, the experimenters
compared some form of teleconferencing with FTF communication (Christie &
Hollway, 1975; Kohl, Newman, & Tomey, 1975).
Williams (1978) in a survey of the telephone conferencing research described
that, "There seems to be a general reduction in the emotional tone as evidenced
by users' judgment that they are more 'serious' and 'businesslike' than
face-to-face meetings" (p. 128). Similarly, Monson (1978) found that in FTF
settings feedback is, "...received through nonverbal cues--a nod of the head, a
look of puzzlement. Since the telephone medium transmits audio cues only, it is
important to build in opportunities for feedback in the case of both speakers
and listeners" (p.135).
By the 1980s, the PC had become an essential component in most types of
teleconferencing. Due to its growing micro-processing power the PC had absorbed
teletype and telephone conferencing. Hiemstra (1982) in an analysis of
previous research on teleconferencing and CMC reported that, "When one surveys
the broader teleconferencing literature, it is typically concluded that as
bandwidth narrows the communication is likely to be described as less friendly,
emotional, and personal, and more serious, businesslike, depersonalized, and
task oriented..."(p.881). Hiemstra also conducted a small pilot study to
examine the influence of teleconferencing on the politeness strategies used by
its participants. The author and his associates content-analyzed transcripts of
an actual computer conference. The overall findings of the pilot study were
that CMC forced participants to be very task-oriented and direct, with little or
no "...indirect or off-record utterances..." (p. 900).
Rice (1984) discussed the effectiveness of CMC in group situations and posited
that, "...the written mode is disliked for certain statements;....direct
interpersonal and nonverbal feedback is missing;...[and] negotiations may be
more intransigent or rigid..."(p. 133). These conclusions by Rice may have
stemmed from the teletype nature of most CMC situations. Since, CMC
participants must typically translate their communications into type--inevitably
slowing down the entire communication process--the participants may experience
intense frustration. Chapanis (1976) found that participants in FTF
communication can transmit eight-times as many messages as a CMC participant
Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire (1984) considered the social-psychological aspects
of computer-mediated communication, and found that CMC impacts four specific
variables: communication efficiency, participation, group choice, and
interpersonal behavior. In a series of studies, the authors required triads to
use a synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) system to reach
consensus on a choice dilemma problem. On communication efficiency the authors
found that, "Computer-mediated groups took longer to reach consensus than did
face-to-face groups, and they exchanged fewer remarks" (p. 1128). Participation
was defined by the authors as the distribution of remarks among CMC group
members. The conclusions included that, "...group members using the computer
participated more equally than they did when they talked face to face" (p.
1129). And considering group choice or the solutions reached by each group, the
authors determined that, "Computer-mediated groups showed significantly higher
choice shift....Perhaps if communication using the computer was depersonalized,
people felt more able to abandon their previous positions" (p. 1129). And
finally, in reference to interpersonal behavior the study showed that the
participants frequently engaged in a high degree of uninhibited behavior such
as: cursing or name-calling. The authors noted that, "...observers of computer
networks have noticed uninhibited behavior for years. In the computer
subculture, the word flaming refers to practice of expressing oneself more
strongly on the computer than one would in other communication settings" (p.
By the mid to late 1980's, the cues filtered out position had become a
doctrine. Hiltz (1986) maintained that, "There is also general acceptance that
the lack of nonverbal cues can diminish or distort 'social presence'"(p. 96).
Hiltz studied the feasibility of conducting university level courses through
CMC. A longitudinal study gathered survey and open-ended questionnaire data
from students in several on-line courses. The students were questioned as to
the level of interaction, access to the professor, and learning experience. One
finding suggested that there was a degree of, "...awkwardness or difficulty felt
by many in communicating without accustomed nonverbal cues that serve to
regulate interaction in the face-to face mode" (p. 100).
Rice & Love (1987) proposed that, "One basic assumption about computer-mediated
communications is that they transmit less of the natural richness and
interaction of interpersonal communication than face-to-face interaction.
Therefore, users of CMC systems exhibit fewer of their natural communication
behavior" (p. 87). Rice & Love further investigated the interaction of content
and structure in CMC messages. Examining six weeks of transcripts taken from a
computerized bulletin board system, the authors hypothesized that the
socio-emotional content or messages of: tension, relief and antagonism would
increase over time. In fact, the research pointed against this hypothesis,
"There is a slight but significant tendency for more active users to send more
SE [socio-emotional] content. While CMC allows more communicative users to be
more socio-emotional, users do not become more so over time" (p. 101). This
finding lent even more support to the tenet that CMC is impersonal and direct.
Arguably the even more salient is the finding that CMC participants' behavior
remained constant over time.
If the research history of CMC were to end here there would be some noticeable
contradictions in the literature. For example, it is unclear whether CMC
demotes or promotes socio-emotional expressiveness. Several authors found that
the transmission of socio-emotional content was limited in CMC interactions
(Hiemstra, 1982; Rice, 1984; and Williams, 1978). At the same time, multiple
researchers suggested a distinct increase in socio-emotional content in CMC
interactions; very often, the increased emotional content was paralleled with
participant frustration (Kiesler, Siegel & McGuire, 1984; Rice & Love, 1987).
Nevertheless, the cues filtered out position, found in the literature, had
become the accepted principle in CMC situations. Due to the lack of nonverbal
and contextual information research has shown that CMC participants communicate
very differently than there FTF counterparts.
Yet, all assumptions should be questioned, and the research of Joseph B.
Walther questioned whether CMC and FTF communication were in fact different over
time. Walther's first step was to critically evaluate previous CMC research.
Walther (1992) explained that the cues filtered out position held four specific
methodological weakness. First, Walther believed that previous experimenters
typically limited the amount of time for participants in CMC to transact
messages. Walther (1992) stated that, "Many experiments in computer
conferencing assign subjects into group-problem solving situations, whether
face-to-face or through CMC, giving them limited time in which to reach a group
decision" (p. 61). Walther argued that CMC increases the amount of time
required for group members to solve problems or reach consensus--a conclusion
based on the amount of time it takes to type and respond to messages.
Therefore, according to Walther, when the experimenter limits the amount of time
for participants to interact the experimenter may only be capturing the earliest
phase in a typical group developmental process. Walther continued to state
that, "...as the CMC group goes through slower development during the same time
interval as the face-to-face group, its total messages should be more like the
initial less personal--interactions of its face-to face counterpart" (p. 62).
Secondly, Walther attacked the resolution that CMC is less personal than FTF
communication. Walther outlined how the quasi-experimental designs of previous
CMC research failed to adequately observe, analyze, or report non-verbal
behaviors in FTF groups. Walther's quarrel with the research was that
non-observed and non-reported nonverbal behaviors, "...might convey formality
and nonimmediacy--less personal or task oriented messages--or
disagreement--[and] negative socioemotional behavior" (p. 63). If such data is
not observed and integrated into the overall conclusions the position that CMC
is less socio-emotional or personal than FTF communication is, "...based on
incomplete measurement...and it may not be true whatsoever..." (p. 63).
Reductionist criticisms were launched against the coding methods used by
various CMC researchers. Very often, a transcript of a CMC event was content
analyzed by a group of coders, classifying the CMC participants' messages
according to the research questions or hypotheses (e.g. politeness strategies,
socio-emotional content, task/social orientation). Walther judged that, "The
interpretation of all messages as either task or socially oriented is a notion
contrary to axiomatic positions about the simultaneous content and relational
functions of any message" (p. 64). In other words, Walther felt that a CMC
message, as with any message, can carry two contrary meanings which may not be
coded as such.
Finally, Walther revisited the temporal aspects of previous research designs by
asserting that many experimenters utilized zero-history CMC comparison groups.
Feeling that there may have been an interaction between zero-history groups and
communication time factors, Walther described how these conditions may have
influenced overall research conclusions. To illustrate, suppose the design of a
hypothetical study compares a CMC group with a FTF group--both of which are
tested against problem solving efficiency. If the design utilizes zero-history
groups with a limited amount of time to complete the problem, Walter believes
that (1) the experimental conditions are not isomorphic with reality, and (2)
strangers would naturally communicate in a more direct and impersonal manner.
Such conclusions would explain much of the previous results in CMC research.
With these four criticisms, Walther had positioned himself to test several of
his premises. Specifically, Walther (1993) examined whether (1) CMC relational
impressions increased over time in zero-history groups, (2) whether relational
impressions are developed in FTF communication earlier than in CMC, and (3)
whether the level of relational impression development becomes comparable after
frequent message exchange in either mode. The study utilized ninety-six
undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to either CMC or FTF triads
and appropriately trained. Over several weeks, the two groups (FTF and CMC)
were required to perform multiple tasks. At the end of the study, questionnaire
data was gathered from the students. Referring to the first hypothesis, Walther
found that, "When computer-mediated groups are allowed to continue over time and
accumulate numerous messages, this continuity has significant impacts on users'
ability to form impressions of one another..." (p. 393). Results concerning
the second hypothesis were not as clear-cut, Walther conceded that, "...FtF
[face-to-face] groups did not appear to exhibit significant change from their
initial, more developed level of impression formation" (p. 393). And lastly,
Walther was unable to clearly ascertain whether the level of relational
impression development was affected by the number of message exchanges. Walther
speculated that FTF group impressions formed almost instantaneously thereby
reducing the possibility of detecting any change in impression development.
Although Walther's experimentation only provided limited support for his
hypotheses, he did find that the evidence pointed toward a new perspective in
Based on the finding that CMC impressions can be developed more fully over time,
Walther introduced the social information processing perspective. The social
information processing perspective presupposes that,
...communicators in CMC, like other communicators, are driven to
develop social relationships. To do so, previously unfamiliar users
become acquainted with others by forming simple impressions through
textually conveyed information. Based on these impressions, they test
their assumptions about others through knowledge-generating strategies,
the results of which accumulate (Walther, 1996 p.8).
At the core of Walther's social information processing perspective is the belief
that, over time, CMC participants are able to develop relational impressions
comparable to those of FTF groups. The social information processing
perspective introduced the phrase "interpersonal epistemology," which Walther
defined as, the individuating representations of the others' beliefs, the
reasons for those beliefs, and their underlying motivational structures
(Walther, 1992 p. 71). In other words, a set of perceptions about another
person. It is the interpersonal epistemologies of CMC and FTF groups which
Walther specifically declared to become comparable over time. Thus, in CMC
interactions participants translate the nonverbal and contextual information to
build interpersonal epistemologies that were previously considered to be
"filtered out." For Walther, it is the translation of nonverbal and contextual
information which extends the amount of time for CMC participants to create
comparable interpersonal epistemologies. Walther stated that, "It may take
interactants longer, however, to observe, and decode impressions from
verbal/textual cues alone than from multi-channel cues....FtF participants have
a head-start, so to speak" (Walther, 1993 p. 386).
At this point, it is important to take an extended look at the foundation for
the social information processing perspective. Table 1 is an edited
reproduction of similar a chart presented in Walther (1992), describing the
assumptions and propositions which form the basis of Walther's perspective.
Walther's Assumptions and Propositions
1. Humans affiliate. And the messages they use constitute relational
2. The development of an interpersonal impression of another person is based on
one gets via nonverbal or verbal-textual channels over the course of several
3. Development change in relational communication will depend on forming an
impression of another interactant.
4. Relational messages are transmitted by nonverbal or verbal, linguistic, and
5. In computer-mediated communication (CMC) messages take longer to process than
do those sent
1. Based on Assumption 2 and 5 development of interpersonal impressions among
unacquainted interactants requires more time in CMC than in face-to-face
because CMC takes longer to exchange.
2. Based on Assumption 2 and 5, personalized communication takes longer to
in CMC than in face-to-face interactions
3. Based on Assumption 3 and 4 , relational, communication changes as the number
of exchanges increases.
4. Based on Assumption 3 and 5 and Proposition 1, relational communication in
initial interactions is different than in later interactions.
5. Changes in relational communication will take longer to accrue in CMC than in
6. Based on Assumption 1 through 5, given sufficient time and message exchanges
for interpersonal impression formation and relational development to accrue,
and all other things being equal, relational valences in later periods of CMC
FTF will be the same.
Table 1 reprints the foundation of the social information processing
perspective, and it is easy to recognize the interrelationships between
Walther's assumptions and propositions. Assumption 2 describes that impression
development or interpersonal epistemology is based on the information that one
gets from two variables: nonverbals and verbal-textual information. Thus, the
observable relational communication, mentioned in Assumption 1 and 4, between
two CMC participants will change according to a change in their interpersonal
epistemology of the other participant.
The "keystone" of social information processing perspective can be partially
seen in Assumption 4 which states that relational communication can be
transmitted by either nonverbal or text-based messages. This is the implicit
translation of nonverbal and contextual information into purely text-based
messages, typically carried by CMC. Since this is the "keystone" of Walther's
perspective the author spends a considerable amount of time with it. Walther
stated that, "Theoretical and empirical work in this area has taken explicit
notice of cue substitutability, and the opportunity for communicators to replace
their nonverbal expressions...with verbal indicators seems clear" (p. 75).
Using the meta-communicative tools to explain nonverbal and contextual cue
substitutability Walther cited the work of Asteroff (1987). Asteroff found that
"relational icons" or meta-communicative tools such as the sideways smile :-) or
wink ;-) served nonverbal and contextual functions. Walther considered that
CMC participants over time could use these tools to reproduce comparable
interpersonal epistemologies and therefore comparable relational communication
as FTF groups.
Walther's research upheld the social information processing perspective and
thus seriously challenged the cues filtered out position. Walther changed how
researchers viewed the CMC process. No longer was the focus upon the filtering
of nonverbal and contextual cues, but rather the rate by which this information
is transacted. Even though Walther's research seemingly supports his
perspective--there are definitive weakness. This paper now turns toward further
scrutiny of those weakness.
Criticizing the Social Information Processing Perspective
Walther found through empirical research that CMC participants build similar
interpersonal epistemological impressions as do their FTF counterparts over
time. The social information processing perspective is based upon the notion
that contextual and nonverbal information can be translated and transmitted
through the text-based medium of CMC. Rejecting the notion that nonverbal and
contextual information can be translated then dictates the refusal of the entire
perspective. Yet, if this is the case and rejecting Walther's keystone notion
is appropriate, then there must be another explanation for Walther's empirical
findings (Walther, 1993). Such a circumstance is possible and probable when
considering another intervening operant in the research design. Aside from the
intervening operant, Walther's keystone notion must be properly critiqued.
One issue has not been debated by Walther, it is that CMC participants use
nonverbal and contextual information in conjunction with text-based language to
build epistemological impressions. In fact, Walther stated that, "In FtF
conversation, partners develop initial impressions rapidly based on nonverbal
characteristics such as, physical appearance and vocal qualities when such cues
are available, social actors rely on them..." (Walther, 1993 p. 385). In other
words, when individuals have nonverbal and contextual information at hand they
the use the information to create impressions of one another. Rejecting the
social information processing perspective requires the explication of several
The first concerns the combination of nonverbal and contextual information
working with text-based language to create and maintain interpersonal
epistemologies. During his critique of past CMC research, Walther (1992 p. 63)
complained that CMC researchers failed to record or report nonverbal behaviors
of their experimental participants--speculating that the nonverbal behaviors may
have had a significant affect upon the outcome of the investigation. Although
Walther himself failed to report any such nonverbal behaviors in his subsequent
research he did notice that, "...nonmediated groups' nonverbal behaviors do
accentuate the agreement messages revealed in their speech" (p. 63). Here,
Walther was arguing against Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire (1984) and their finding
that CMC was less socio-emotional; yet, Walther was arguing that nonverbal,
contextuals and language all work together. The premise here is simple, since
nonverbal and contextual information work in combination with language then the
absence of one factor makes the creation of interpersonal epistemologies much
Arguably, Walther would retort that meta-communication would serve to translate
the essential but absent nonverbal and contextual information. And as stated,
over time Walther believes that CMC participants would recover the absent
information. Time also works against Walther's argument, in that there is not
enough "time" for CMC participants to use the meta-communicative tools to
translate and transmit the nonverbal and contextual information. Walther
subscribes to accumulative approach to interpersonal epistemology stating that
these effects, "...accrue quickly over time in FtF interaction [and] can occur
in CMC, but require extended time interactions" (Walther, 1994 p. 477).
Although some nonverbal and contextual information may accrue over time, this
information is not static--it also changes with time. To that end, the
participants would be required to continually translate this
information--arguably slowing down the communication process to a crawl.
Additionally, the CMC research history fails to support this possibility by
describing CMC interactions as task oriented and direct (Monson, 1978; Hiemstra,
1982; Rice, 1984; and Rice & Love, 1987). In fact, research observations
suggested the appearance of flaming or uninhibited and aggressive behavior; the
flaming activity may have been resulting from frustration on the part of CMC
participants who could not adequately express the intricacies of their
nonverbals. In a meta-analysis of CMC research, Walther (1994) could find no
cause for the flaming activity, "The present results cannot account for the
previous findings regarding the prevalence of this type of behavior" (p. 478).
Although Walther could find no explanation for the prevalent flaming
activity--one plausible explanation was that the participants felt the
limitation of the medium and responded with aggressive behavior.
So, when considering the above counter-arguments, Walther's keystone notion
that CMC can translate nonverbal and contextual information appears less
substantial. Nevertheless, this paper must address Walther's findings that FTF
and CMC groups obtain similar levels of interpersonal epistemology and
relational communication; because if FTF and CMC groups reach similar
epistemological levels and have similar communication there must be an operant
at work to cause these finding.
Social Constructionism as an Explanation for Walter's Findings
Suppose for example, two individuals begin a CMC relationship through a typical
format in which all communication is accomplished through text-based
transactions. The impetus for the hypothetical relationship is human
affiliation. Even further, the relationship continues over a series of months
in which the participants "get to know each other" by strategically probing for
specific information. If the participants were surveyed about the impression
each had about the other person research has shown that the participants would,
over time, report the same level of impressions that two persons meeting FTF
would report. Both levels of impressions or interpersonal epistemologies are
proven to be derived from: nonverbals, context, and language. Walther cited how
the nonverbals and contextual information are translated into text-based
language--fulfilling the requisites for similar levels of interpersonal
epistemologies. This paper suggests that the nonverbal and contextual
information cannot be transformed, therefore this paper must chart a new course
to explain CMC and FTF epistemological comparability over time.
The new course begins with a deeper understanding of the interaction between
the CMC participants. Since nonverbal and contextual information cannot be
transformed, it must in fact be missing. Consider, the missing information in
CMC transactions being replaced by the participants themselves; basically, CMC
participants would be socially constructing the missing information. So in the
hypothetical example above, the CMC participants would be using the
meta-communicative tools--which cannot replace true nonverbal and contextual
information--creating faulty impressions of one another. Consequently, the CMC
participants would believe they have high levels of interpersonal epistemology;
and they would communicate as if they really "knew" the other person. When
questioned, the participants would also report high levels of impression of one
another when in actuality they did not share accurate impressions.
Social constructionism dictates that all symbolic reality is created by
interactions between individuals. Note, that all reality is constructed whether
in FTF or CMC interactions. So, when two people form a FTF relationship, they
form interpersonal epistemologies that are undoubtedly false in many respects.
The assertion here is that in CMC relationships the amount of social
construction is exponentially greater than in FTF interactions, yet so covert
that the participants are deceived into believing that the CMC relationship is
similar to the FTF relationship. In describing how potent social constructions
can become Beger & Luckmann authors of The Social Construction of Reality
(1966) stated that, "...reality...is taken for granted as reality. It does not
require additional verification over and beyond its simple presence" (p. 23).
Hence, if the participants in CMC believe the relationship that they are
engaging in to be real they will report the experience as real.
Although published in the mid-1960s, The Social Construction of Reality
prophetically announced that, "The most important experience of others takes
place in the face-to-face situation, which is the prototypical case of social
interaction. All other cases are derivatives of it" (p. 27). The authors
subsequently described that even in FTF settings with all available
communicative information present, misinterpretation and social construction are
very much at hand (p.28). Thus, if social construction occurs greatly in FTF
settings, then it must be a greater increased when the bulk of nonverbal and
contextual information is missing. Social constructionism explains Walther's
results that CMC and FTF groups have similar levels of interpersonal
epistemology and further invalidates the issues of CMC rate and
time--essentially the entire social information processing perspective. The
case for social constructionism has indirectly been by Walther (1993) himself,
Models of impression formation generally hold that perceivers form
impressions about actors' dispositions and personalities through
inductive observation of specific events, by which inferences about a
few specific traits generalize to relatively global judgments.Thus, we
may make rather extensive impressions based on little exposure (p. 386).
The "...rather extensive impressions..." based on generalizations are simply
social constructions concerning the other participant. Walther was describing
how CMC participants were inductively making large generalizations about the
other participant. Considering that nonverbal and contextual information were
missing the generalizations were much larger than he expected.
Although Walther's social information processing perspective has been supported
by empirical evidence, the present paper has sought to use those same results
toward another position. Future research should certainly consider this
alternate explanation in their research designs.
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