Interpersonal communication 2010-v2

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  • Put simply, CMC is human communication through the medium of a computer. The communication can occur via a variety of means including email, instant messenger, mail forums, video, blogs and more recently, virtual worlds.
  • American psychologist James Jerome Gibson was influential in changing the way we consider visual perception. According to his theory, perception of the environment inevitably leads to some course of action. Affordances, or clues in the environment that indicate possibilities for action, are perceived in a direct, immediate way with no sensory processing. Examples include: buttons for pushing, knobs for turning, handles for pulling, levers for sliding, etc.


  • 1. How do you Communicate?
  • 2. InterpersonalCommunication
  • 3. This week
    What is Communication ?
    The application of Communication theory to virtual environments
    Variables that affect communication in computer mediated environments
    Constraints and Affordances
    Cultural variances
    On- and off-line effects of avatar appearance
  • 4. CMC Past,PresentandFuture
  • 5. What is Computer Mediated Communication (CMC)
    Main areas of research in relation to communication include the effects of:
    The absence of social context cues (i.e. Body language, facial expressions)
    Gender and culture
    Published in The New Yorker September 12, 2005
  • 6. Shannon-Weaver Communication Model
    Channel Message
  • 7. Shannon-Weaver Model applied to a Virtual World
    Source (person at the keyboard) consciously or unconsciously transmits a message
    Culture, language, gender etc
    Message is encoded according to internal and external variables e.g. avatar modification, environmental modification, choice of text or speech
    The Avatar is the channel/medium through which the message is transmitted
    Lag, audio problems
    Sending and receiving can be hindered by noise
    The receiver needs to be able to decode (understand) the message
  • 8. Factors Affecting Communication
  • 9. Grounding
    Factors that may have an effect on grounding
    CLARK, H. & BRENNAN, S. 1991. Grounding in Communication. In: RESNICK, L. B., LEVINE, J. M. & TEASLEY, S. D. (eds.) Perspectives on socially shared cognition. Washington: American Psychological Association.
  • 10. Seven Media and Their Associated Constraints
    Adapted from - CLARK, H. & BRENNAN, S. 1991. Grounding in Communication. In: RESNICK, L. B., LEVINE, J. M. & TEASLEY, S. D. (eds.) Perspectives on socially shared cognition. Washington: American Psychological Association.
  • 11. Noise
    DEVITO, J. A. 2007. The interpersonal communication book, Boston, Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
  • 12. Affordances
    Affordance Theory – J.J Gibson
    Perception of the environment leads to some course of action
    Affordances of VWs which affect communication include:
    the ability to use and/or make Gestures
    the ability and extent to which an avatars appearance can be customised
    the extent to which an avatar can be animated
    and whether the environment uses text, speech or a mixture of the two
  • 13. Second Life Affordances
  • 14. Culture and CMC
    Cultures may draw on different channels of communication for conversational grounding
    Cultures may differ in interactional goals, making different media more or less appropriate
    Understanding interactions between culture and CMC is important for:
    • Building theories of collaborative technologies
    • Designing tools for global distribution and/or cross-cultural communication
  • 15. Cultural Variances and Variables
    PDI = Power Distance
    IDV = Individualism
    MAS = Masculinity
    UAI = Uncertainty Avoidance Index
    LTO = Long-Term Orientation
  • 16. Other Cultural Factors
    The extent to which information is made explicit or is assumed
    High-context culture
    JACK, R. E., BLAIS, C., SCHEEPERS, C., SCHYNS, P. G., & CALDARA, R. (2008) Cultural Confusions Show Facial Expressions are Not Universal Current Biology, (in press)
  • 17. Disinhibition
    The freedom afforded by virtual environments along with diminished visual and auditory clues and the narrow bandwidth of communication can result in a state of, what has been described as disinhibition (Joinson, 2003)
  • 18. Gender
    • Major reason women present as men in online environments is so they won’t get hassled
    • 19. Main reason men present as women is because they feel people are nicer to them and more likely to give them things (Bruckman, 1993).
    • 20. Gendered communication styles carry over into virtual environments
    • 21. Anonymity or pseudo anonymity of virtual environments results in increased assertiveness for many women (Rodino, 1997).
    • 22. Voice presents a challenge for those who are presenting in the environment as a different gender or who prefer to present as gender neutral.
  • On- and Offline Effects of Avatar Appearance
    Creating an avatar is an act of visual communication
    What does YOUR avatar say about you?
    Inworld appearance can impact real life behaviour
  • 23. More Information
    CMC general
    Animations and gestures
    A list of references of the sources used in this presentation can be found in this weeks folder.