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ABSTRACT                    INSTANT MESSAGING COMMUNICATION:                    A QUANTITATIVE LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS        ...
INSTANT MESSAGING COMMUNICATION:A QUANTITATIVE LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS                  A Thesis              Submitted to the...
Table of ContentsLIST OF TABLES .............................................................................................
Data Formatting for H1 ......................................................................................................
APPENDIX A: LIWC OUTPUT VARIABLE INFORMATION .............................. 71 APPENDIX B: INTERNET SHORTHAND DICTIONARY ....
List of TablesTABLE 1. AFFECTIVE OR EMOTIONAL PROCESS LANGUAGE.............................................. 35 TABLE 2. P...
List of FiguresFIGURE 1. LOG FILE ARCHIVE NAMING CONVENTION FOR DATA COLLECTION. ................... 33 FIGURE 2. LOG FILE...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS       Graduate study at Miami University has been an incredibly rewarding andeducational experience. Ther...
Chapter 1: IntroductionIntroduction       When Mirabilis debuted their internet communication software, dubbed ICQ (Iseek ...
a critical communication technology so quickly that scholars have had little time toinvestigate the characteristics and fu...
H1: Female-female conversation dyads will have the highest percentage ofaffective/emotional process language, followed by ...
Chapter 2: Review of LiteratureIntroduction to the Literature       As a relative newcomer to the media of communication, ...
warned researchers that neither of these measures adequately measures gender.Nonetheless, many researchers continue to use...
connecting to other speakers. Finally, feminine speech patterns are often tentative,containing more hedges and qualifiers ...
others. Similarly, Strough and Berg (2000) found that female-female dyads featuredsignificantly more collaboration and coo...
making and defending assertions. Women, on the other hand, attenuate theircommunication by hedging their assertions, askin...
however, disclosed equally to male and female friends. Additionally, their researchrevealed that females were more often t...
more when speaking with women. In order to determine whether or not these tendenciespersist in IM communication, the follo...
significantly lower levels of popularity than other available communication channels. It isboth intuitive and clear in exi...
teens (7th grade) and older teens (12th grade) in self-reported use of IM technology,suggesting that the “younger” teen ge...
2002). Additionally, the study noted that most IM conversations occurred with peopleadolescents frequently interacted with...
interviews, the researchers reported several trends and characteristics in teenage instantmessaging.       First, adolesce...
location or activity when not present near the computer. Buddies can read the “awaymessage” and leave a message for the us...
In a similar study with a uses and gratifications theoretical foundation, Flanagin(2005) found slightly differing results....
away message as provocative as possible in order to solicit messages from friends whilethey are away. In addition, some us...
a conversation, similar to spoken English. On the other hand, the author noted the relativeobscurity of internet shorthand...
example, is only useful if the call recipient is in close proximity to the phone and answersit, while e-mail may be checke...
ending when the issue was resolved” (Isaacs et al., 2002). These conversations comprised27.8% of all workplace IM conversa...
another application. Simple math reveals that 75% of workers multitasked with non-related activities while communicating v...
(Cameron & Webster, 2005). On the other hand, users found the medium unsuitable forformal or official communication and em...
defined as “the extent to which people in a culture prefer to be engaged in two or moretasks or events simultaneously and ...
Students also appreciated availability of the instructor via IM to answer questionsand concerns they might have about the ...
Other Phenomena within IM         Several studies have investigated other communication phenomena within themedium of IM. ...
Effects of IM Use       Much has been written about psychosocial effects of the Internet and IMtechnology. Studies within ...
Positive        The increase in internet effects research sparked by the findings of Kraut et al.(1998) led to a flurry of...
study, as were significantly higher levels of self-esteem and perceptions of social support(Shaw & Gant, 2002).       The ...
surprisingly, Bohanek, Fivush, and Walker (2005) found that narratives of positiveexperiences contained more positive emot...
fashion, inclusion, sociability, escape, social entertainment, task accomplishment, socialattention, and to meet new peopl...
Chapter 3: MethodsIntroduction       This study explored the possibility that word usage in IM conversations ispredictive ...
dictionary of 2300 words and word stems. For each processed text file, LIWC calculatesthe word count and percentage of the...
the log files, and after that review, one conversation was erased. The remainingconversation logs were used in the study. ...
about multiple sign-ins of the same screen name, and notifications of buddies signing onor off. Additionally, global spell...
Table 1.Affective or Emotional Process LanguageDimension                                                      ExamplesAffe...
Analysis for H2         LIWC software was configured to analyze text for the presence of positiveemotions (see Table 2). C...
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  1. 1. ABSTRACT INSTANT MESSAGING COMMUNICATION: A QUANTITATIVE LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS by Robert Nathan YaleThis study used quantitative content analysis software to create a linguistic profile ofcollege student instant messaging (IM) behaviors to investigate sex differences in text-based communication. Linguistic indicators of psychological states, differences inaffective language use by conversation dyad type, and gender differences within thecontext of IM were investigated. Linguistic markers did not indicate positivepsychological effects of frequent IM communication. Significant differences were foundbetween female-male, female-female, and male-male dyads in the use of affectivelanguage. Additionally, a multi-dimensional profile of linguistic characteristics by genderrevealed significant differences between males and females in areas such as use ofpsychological process words, relativity words, and words about personal concerns.
  2. 2. INSTANT MESSAGING COMMUNICATION:A QUANTITATIVE LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Miami University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Communication by Robert Nathan Yale Miami University Oxford, Ohio 2007Advisor__________________________________ Dr. James D. PattersonReader___________________________________ Dr. Stephanie S. RollieReader___________________________________ Dr. Benjamin D. Voth
  3. 3. Table of ContentsLIST OF TABLES ........................................................................................................... V LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................ VI ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ......................................................................................... VII CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION .................................................................................... 1  INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................................ 1  THE PROBLEM ............................................................................................................................................. 1  SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY ............................................................................................................................. 2  PURPOSE OF STUDY ..................................................................................................................................... 2 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE ................................................................. 4  INTRODUCTION TO THE LITERATURE ........................................................................................................... 4  GENDER AND LANGUAGE USE..................................................................................................................... 4  GENDER AND COMPUTER MEDIATED COMMUNICATION ............................................................................. 7  Theoretical Framework for IM Studies................................................................................................ 10  USERS OF IM TECHNOLOGY ...................................................................................................................... 11  The Adolescent User ............................................................................................................................ 11  The College Student User .................................................................................................................... 15  The Business User................................................................................................................................ 18  EDUCATION AND IM.................................................................................................................................. 23  OTHER PHENOMENA WITHIN IM................................................................................................................ 25  EFFECTS OF IM USE .................................................................................................................................. 26  Negative ............................................................................................................................................... 26  Positive ................................................................................................................................................ 27  WORD CHOICES AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STATES ........................................................................................ 28  SUMMARY ................................................................................................................................................. 29 CHAPTER 3: METHODS ............................................................................................. 31  INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................................................... 31  SAMPLE ..................................................................................................................................................... 31  MEASUREMENT INSTRUMENT.................................................................................................................... 31  ANALYSIS .................................................................................................................................................. 32  Data Collection .................................................................................................................................... 32  ii
  4. 4. Data Formatting for H1 ....................................................................................................................... 33  Analysis for H1 .................................................................................................................................... 34  Data Formatting for H2 ....................................................................................................................... 35  Analysis for H2 .................................................................................................................................... 36  Data Formatting for Research Questions ............................................................................................ 36  Analysis for Research Questions 1-5 ................................................................................................... 36  Analysis for Research Question 6 ........................................................................................................ 37  SUMMARY ................................................................................................................................................. 37 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND ANALYSIS................................................................. 38  GENDER DYAD AND AFFECTIVE LANGUAGE ............................................................................................. 38  Descriptive Statistics............................................................................................................................ 38  POSITIVE LANGUAGE AND MESSAGING FREQUENCY ................................................................................ 39  LINGUISTIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALES AND FEMALES ...................................................................... 39  Significant Gender Differences in Linguistic Dimensions ................................................................... 40  Significant Gender Differences in Psychological Processes ............................................................... 41  Significant Gender Differences in Relativity Words ............................................................................43  Significant Gender Differences in Personal Concerns ........................................................................ 44  Significant Gender Differences in the Experimental Category ............................................................45  SIMILARITY OF IM TO SPOKEN AND WRITTEN LANGUAGE........................................................................ 45  Linguistic Dimensions Category .......................................................................................................... 46  Psychological Processes Category ...................................................................................................... 47  Relativity Category .............................................................................................................................. 48  Personal Concerns Category ............................................................................................................... 48  Experimental Category ........................................................................................................................ 49  Overall Category Difference................................................................................................................ 50 CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION ......................................................................................... 51  INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................................................... 51  RESEARCH GOALS AND FINDINGS ............................................................................................................. 51  Gender Dyad and Affective Language ................................................................................................. 51  Positive Language and Messaging Frequency ....................................................................................52  Linguistic Differences between Genders and Similarity to Written and Spoken Language .................52  LIMITATIONS OF STUDY ............................................................................................................................ 60  DIRECTION FOR FUTURE RESEARCH .......................................................................................................... 61  CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................................. 62 WORKS CITED.............................................................................................................. 64  iii
  5. 5. APPENDIX A: LIWC OUTPUT VARIABLE INFORMATION .............................. 71 APPENDIX B: INTERNET SHORTHAND DICTIONARY ..................................... 73 APPENDIX C: SAMPLE IM LOG FILES .................................................................. 83  SAMPLE FEMALE-FEMALE CONVERSATION LOG ......................................................................................... 83  SAMPLE FEMALE-MALE CONVERSATION LOG ............................................................................................ 85  SAMPLE MALE-MALE CONVERSATION LOG ................................................................................................ 86  iv
  6. 6. List of TablesTABLE 1. AFFECTIVE OR EMOTIONAL PROCESS LANGUAGE.............................................. 35 TABLE 2. POSITIVE EMOTION LANGUAGE ......................................................................... 36 TABLE 3. SIGNIFICANT GENDER DIFFERENCES IN LINGUISTIC DIMENSIONS ..................... 41 TABLE 4. SIGNIFICANT GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES ............... 42 TABLE 5. SIGNIFICANT GENDER DIFFERENCES IN RELATIVITY WORDS ............................ 43 TABLE 6. SIGNIFICANT GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PERSONAL CONCERNS.......................... 44 TABLE 7. SIGNIFICANT GENDER DIFFERENCES IN THE EXPERIMENTAL CATEGORY .......... 45 TABLE 8. LINGUISTIC DIMENSIONS CATEGORY COMPARISON BETWEEN COMMUNICATION TYPES ........................................................................................................................ 46 TABLE 9. PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES CATEGORY COMPARISON BETWEEN COMMUNICATION TYPES ........................................................................................... 47 TABLE 10. RELATIVITY WORDS CATEGORY COMPARISON BETWEEN COMMUNICATION TYPES ........................................................................................................................ 48 TABLE 11. PERSONAL CONCERNS CATEGORY COMPARISON BETWEEN COMMUNICATION TYPES ........................................................................................................................ 49 TABLE 12. EXPERIMENTAL CATEGORY COMPARISONS BETWEEN COMMUNICATION TYPES ........................................................................................................................ 50  v
  7. 7. List of FiguresFIGURE 1. LOG FILE ARCHIVE NAMING CONVENTION FOR DATA COLLECTION. ................... 33 FIGURE 2. LOG FILE NAMING CONVENTION FOR H1 DATA FORMATTING. ........................... 33 FIGURE 3. LOG FILE NAMING CONVENTION FOR H2 DATA FORMATTING. ........................... 35 FIGURE 4. PLOT OF AFFECTIVE LANGUAGE PERCENT MEANS BY DYAD TYPE. ..................... 39 FIGURE 5. HIERARCHY OF MEDIA RICHNESS WITH IM. ...................................................... 60  vi
  8. 8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Graduate study at Miami University has been an incredibly rewarding andeducational experience. There are several individuals who went out of their way to makeit particularly enjoyable. First, my advisor, Dr. James Patterson, who devoted his owntime to provide timely and helpful feedback on the progress of the study, and who willalways be remembered as a man who always goes out of his way to provide assistance (inmany ways) for others. Thank you for your mentorship, for being willing to share yourwisdom and experience, and for your generosity in giving a new graduate student somany research opportunities. My time at Miami has also been rewarding because of my involvement with theforensics program directed by Dr. Ben Voth. Thank you for your unwavering supportthrough the past two years and your steadfast championing of the graduate program andgraduate students. I’ll miss the weekly meetings on the disc golf course and the alwaysinformative political discussions. My wonderful wife has been an amazing partner through this period of study, andI can’t imagine completing these years without her support. Thank you for constantlyreminding me of the important things in life, for keeping my calendar updated, and foralways being there. I love you, Melissa. Finally, my wonderful parents who took me to the library every week as a childand taught me to love reading and books. You are both responsible for my love forlearning. Thanks for everything. vii
  9. 9. Chapter 1: IntroductionIntroduction When Mirabilis debuted their internet communication software, dubbed ICQ (Iseek you), in 1996, they could hardly have expected the medium they created wouldachieve widespread adoption so quickly. Although other internet instant messaging (IM)software packages have surpassed ICQ in popularity, the medium of IM remains apopular form of technologized communication. Ten years after the launch of ICQ, 74.3million Americans now use one of the three major services (AOL Instant Messenger,MSN Messenger, or Yahoo! Messenger) to communicate online. This number does notinclude users of the dozens of less popular IM software packages, many of which workusing networks provided by the major services (Hu, 2004). Technology market researchfirm The Radicati Group estimates that worldwide IM accounts will grow from 944million in 2006, to 1.4 billion in 2010 (Quick facts, 2006), making IM the fastest growingcommunication technology in history and making it a communication technology worthyof study (Hu, 2004; Jennings, 2005).The Problem Unlike other mediated communication technologies which have been analyzedover decades or centuries rather than years, IM communication has been the focus ofrelatively few academic inquiries, and very little is known about the content of “realworld” instant messages. Increasingly, corporate users are forgoing e-mail for IMbecause of its synchronous nature and absence of spam (Strom, 2006a; Strom, 2006b). Astudy released by Gartner Research in December 2005, predicts that by 2010, 90% ofpeople with business e-mail accounts will have IM accounts, and the Radicati Groupforecasts 349 million enterprise IM users by 2008 (Sostek, 2006; Saunders, 2003). Thewilling integration of IM technology by corporations and businesses and the explosivegrowth of home use of the medium signal a communication technology that warrantsextensive investigation by communication scholars. Unlike other technological communication innovations which were introducedand slowly gained acceptance and widespread use, IM has gained widespread adoption as 1
  10. 10. a critical communication technology so quickly that scholars have had little time toinvestigate the characteristics and functions of communication within this medium.Additionally, the fact that IM has not been supplanted by more media rich technologiessuch as internet based videoconferencing and voice communication is surprising,indicating a unique role of text-based communication in human interaction.Significance of Study This project was aimed at exploring the use of IM technology in natural settings.Through computerized analysis of actual instant messaging conversations outside of alaboratory environment, an IM communication benchmark was created as a point ofdeparture and frame of reference for future studies. In this way, future investigationsinvolving different user bases of IM will have numerous points of comparison withcollege student users. In addition, several known gender communication tendencies fromother mediums were tested to define similarities and differences with IM. Although yearsof research have resulted in very few generalized gendered communication tendencies,there is no denial of the fact that within specific contexts, males and femalescommunicate in drastically different ways (Ragan, 1989). This study examineddifferences between male and female communication in the specific context of IM. It seems clear that IM is a technology which will remain influential in humancommunication for the foreseeable future. Careful research must be conducted to assessthe characteristics of this type of communication and to investigate the implications forthe study of communication as a whole.Purpose of Study This study had three purposes: 1) to catalogue the difference in word use betweenmales and females in IM communication; 2) to test known male and femalecommunication patterns in the medium of IM; and 3) to assess the potential positive ornegative effects of time spent communicating via IM. To this end, two hypotheses and sixresearch questions were proposed: 2
  11. 11. H1: Female-female conversation dyads will have the highest percentage ofaffective/emotional process language, followed by female-male dyads, and finallymale-male dyads.H2: Amount of positive emotion language will be positively correlated withmessaging frequency.RQ1: What are the linguistic differences between male IM communication andfemale IM communication?RQ2: Do males and females differ in their use of psychological process words?RQ3: Do males and females differ in their use of relativity words?RQ4: Do males and females differ in their use of words about personal concerns?RQ5: Do males and females differ in their use of internet shorthand? (SeeAppendix B).RQ6: Is IM conversation more linguistically similar to spoken or writtenlanguage? 3
  12. 12. Chapter 2: Review of LiteratureIntroduction to the Literature As a relative newcomer to the media of communication, IM technology has notreceived significant attention from scholars of communication, and understanding of themotives for and methods of online dyadic communication is limited. Gender differencesin IM conversation also have received little attention. This literature review will attemptto summarize important research in the area of gender, conversation, and IMcommunication as a method of defining the contributions this study will make toscholarly understanding of this communication phenomenon. First, seminal literaturerelating to gender, language, and IM use will be explored. The next section will reviewvarious studies defined by different user bases of IM technology: the adolescent user, thecollege student user, and the business user. Following this, studies which examinedvarious educational uses of instant messaging will be summarized. The next section willhighlight studies investigating other phenomena within the medium of IM before finallyexamining various outcome studies of IM technology.Gender and Language Use The subject of gender and language use has been studied widely in a variety ofcontexts. Two dominant views of gender have emerged: the essentialist perspective andthe social constructionist perspective. The essentialist perspective holds that sex andgender are inseparable and that essential differences exist between males and femaleswhich are present in every individual male or female (Mahalingam, 2003). On the otherhand, social constructionists make a distinction between sex and gender, arguing thatgender is created through social interaction as norms for masculine and feminine areconstructed (Laird, 2000). Unfortunately, for the researcher, while gender is a muchricher concept to investigate in communication situations, there are currently no validmeasures of gender. Canary & Hause (1993) note that the two primary measures used toclassify gender, the Bem Sex Roles Inventory (BSRI) (Bem, 1974) and the PersonalAttributes Questionnaire (PAQ) (Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1974), were neverdesigned to make gender classifications. Moreover, the authors of the two measures have 4
  13. 13. warned researchers that neither of these measures adequately measures gender.Nonetheless, many researchers continue to use these measures to search for genderdifferences (Canary & Hause, 1993). Because of the impossibility of accurately measuring gender as defined in thesocial constructionist viewpoint, this study examines differences in mediatedcommunication between the sexes. In studies cited where the word “gender” is used, it isconceptualized as interchangeable with sex. Researchers have noted that despite the overwhelming amount of research on sexdifferences in communication, there are painfully few substantiated and generalized sexdifferences in communication across contexts (Ragan, 1989; Dindia & Canary, 2006).This study does not attempt to make such generalizations. Instead, this study desires aclear and detailed picture of sex differences in a very specific communication context:instant messaging. The richness of this analysis will facilitate theory-building in the areasof gender and text-based communication. This section will review scholarly literaturewhich examines gender differences in various contexts to highlight observed differencesin male and female communication. Maltz and Borker (Wood, 1994) point to typical boys’ and girls’ childhood gamesas the possible origin of masculine and feminine communication behavior. Gamescommonly played by boys, such as basketball or soldiers, are usually played in largergroups and have clearly defined rules. These games teach boys three uses of verbalcommunication: 1) to achieve a goal; 2) to attract and maintain an audience; and 3) tocompete with others for the talking “floor.” Girls, on the other hand, traditionally playgames in smaller groups, such as house or school. Games like this have no clearlydefined rules, and as such, teach girls different principles of verbal communication: 1)use cooperative conversation to create and maintain relationships; 2) avoid negative talk,criticizing, and put-downs; and 3) pay attention to others and relationships by interpretingand responding to feelings (Wood, 1994). Wood also proposed several other characteristics of women’s conversation, notingthat feminine speech often is characterized by its supportive nature. Women often workto establish equality between people in conversation and make an effort to be inclusive.Female conversations also tend to be concrete and personal, concerned with relating and 5
  14. 14. connecting to other speakers. Finally, feminine speech patterns are often tentative,containing more hedges and qualifiers (Wood, 1994). On the other hand, male speech is characterized by efforts to exert control,preserve independence, and increase perceived status. The use of language to exhibitknowledge or display special abilities is often used as a method of raising status. Menoften use speech as a way to solve problems or accomplish objectives. Eakins and Eakins(Wood, 1994) propose that men use speech to maintain conversational dominance,similar to Maltz and Borker’s observations about holding the conversation floor. Woodalso notes that male conversation is often replete with expression of absolutes and use ofabstraction, distanced from emotion. More often than women, men demonstrate a lack ofsympathy, understanding, and personal self-disclosure (Wood, 1994). Supporting these findings, the study conducted by Timmers, Fischer, & Manstead(1998) examined emotion expression differences between males and females. They foundthat women expressed more overt sadness, fear, and disappointment, while men wouldnot show sadness, fear, or disappointment. These results supported the authors’contention that women tend to display less power when expressing their emotions,compared to men who tend to display more power. Bayard and Krishnayya (2001) analyzed the tape-recorded conversations of menand women to understand differences in the use of expletives. One house with only malesand another house with only females were recorded over a period of two weeks. Dataanalysis revealed that in every context considered, males used more expletives thanfemales. However, in conversation directed toward accomplishing goals or a specificpurpose, the use of expletives was reduced (Bayard & Krishnayya, 2001). Not surprisingly, Kinney, Smith, & Donzella (2001) found a significant differencebetween males and females in the area of anger and verbal aggressiveness. Their studyconcluded that males not only claimed to be more verbally aggressive, but also expressedmore outward anger than females. In discussing their model of gender related behavior, Deaux and Major (1987)listed several beliefs about the characteristic of the average man and average woman inrelation to communication behaviors. They noted that men are perceived as moredominant and assertive, while women are more expressive, warm, and concerned with 6
  15. 15. others. Similarly, Strough and Berg (2000) found that female-female dyads featuredsignificantly more collaboration and cooperation than either female-male dyads or male-male dyads. On the whole, research in gender and language use indicates men tend to be moredominant and controlling with words, while women are perceived as more cooperative,concerned with equality, expressive, and concerned with others (Deaux & Major, 1987;Strough & Berg, 2000; Wood, 1994). In addition to this large body of work examining gender differences incommunication, more recent studies have begun to examine the effect of computermediated communication (CMC) on gender differences.Gender and Computer Mediated Communication When researchers first began to study CMC in the 1970s, it was hailed as thetechnological breakthrough which would once and for all provide an equal and genderneutral space for dialogue because the text-only medium eradicated the presence ofsensory cues which indicate gender. Despite these hopes, Eino Sierpe (2005) noted thatthis was “largely inconsistent with the reality of gendered communication.” To the astutestudent of language, gendered patterns in communication are apparent in most cultures.Further research in gender and CMC has revealed that known masculine and femininecommunication patterns have largely persisted in the online environment. A growing number of researchers have examined the ways in which genderemerges in text-based conversations. Prior to CMC emerging as a context for genderstudies, little gender analysis was done of written communication. In one of the earlieststudies, conducted by J. A. Emig in 1971, the researcher noted that females have apreference for expressive writing assignments, while males prefer informative writing(Sierpe, 2005). As CMC emerged as a rich medium for research in gender, future studiesexamined differences between the sexes in the online environment. In the keynoteaddress of the 1994 American Library Association annual convention, Susan Herringshared the results of her research on gender and CMC. Her studies indicated that in theCMC environment, men tend to use an adversarial, self-promoting style, characterized by 7
  16. 16. making and defending assertions. Women, on the other hand, attenuate theircommunication by hedging their assertions, asking questions, and providing personalorientation to the topics at hand (S. Herring, public presentation, June 27, 1994), which isconsistent with verbal findings. Supporting these findings, Charles Soukup (1999) studied chat roomconversations for patterns of male and female online conversation and reportedinteraction between males was characterized by profanity, sexual references, attacks onmasculinity and sexual orientation, and other personal attacks. He also noted that much ofthe conversation was filled with arguments based around absolutist position statements.Interaction between females, on the other hand, was characterized by cooperation,emotionality, and relationship building, using more expressive tactics than men (Soukup,1999). In their media richness study involving manipulation of levels of equivocality,Dennis, Kinney, & Hung (1999) noted that women are more expressive, better atinterpreting non-verbal behavior, and more socially oriented than men. Men were alsoreported as being much more task oriented. After analyzing the online communication of a graduate-level distance educationprogram, Barret & Lally (1999) found that in online discussions, men communicate withmore turns, have turns of greater length, and engage in higher levels of social exchangethan women. Women were characterized by higher levels of interaction, measured inreferences to other discussion members or previous messages. Savicki & Kelley (2000) found that while men and women do communicatedifferently in an online environment, the strongest influence on communicationsatisfaction was the gender with whom a person communicates. Female-onlycommunication groups had high levels of communication satisfaction, while male-onlygroups had low levels of satisfaction. Groups composed of males and females had levelsof satisfaction between those of same gendered groups (Savicki & Kelley, 2000). Many studies in gender and communication have reported gender differences inself-disclosure, and recently, researchers have extended this investigation to CMCenvironments. In a study of adolescents’ disclosure to friends, Dolgin & Kim (1994)found that females preferentially disclose personal information to other females. Males, 8
  17. 17. however, disclosed equally to male and female friends. Additionally, their researchrevealed that females were more often the recipients of moderate and highly intimatedisclosure, while males were more often recipients of low intimacy disclosure. Examining the relationship of reported shyness to self-disclosure on the internet,Stritzke, Nguyen, & Durkin (2004) found significant differences between shy and nonshyindividuals in the area of self-disclosure in face-to-face environments. However, thisdifference disappeared in CMC situations, supporting their hypothesis that mediatedenvironments reduced shyness. Shyness was also reduced for nonshy respondents,indicating a persistent effect of inhibition reduction in online communication (Stritzke etal., 2004). McKenna, Green, & Gleason (2002) conducted a study which revealed twoattributes of CMC that may foster increases in self-disclosure: perceived anonymity andthe absence of physical indicators of social discomfort. They reported that the onlineenvironment is one in which people engage in more disclosure and thus developcloseness more quickly than in offline interaction. The study found a significantdifference between males and females in reported levels of intimacy in CMCrelationships. Women reported that these relationships formed over the internet were bothcloser and deeper than males reported (McKenna et al., 2002). In her examination of college students’ self-disclosure behavior on the Internet,Narissra Punyanunt-Carter (2006) reported that females engage in more self-disclosureon the Internet than males. Females also reported disclosing information of a morepersonal nature than males. Interestingly, the study also revealed that males disclose morenegative statements than females. The author suggested that this is because males bondwith one another using negative statements, while females bond with one another usingaffirmation and positive statements (Punyanunt-Carter, 2006). Gender studies of this kind have not been conducted to any extent within themedium of IM. Research is necessary to determine whether or not gender communicationand interaction patterns persist in dyadic CMC. The reviewed research indicates that inmany contexts, females tend to be more expressive, emotional, and disclosing than men.Males experience higher levels of satisfaction when conversing with women, and disclose 9
  18. 18. more when speaking with women. In order to determine whether or not these tendenciespersist in IM communication, the following hypothesis is proposed: H1: Female-female conversation dyads will have the highest percentage of affective/emotional process language, followed by female-male dyads, and finally male-male dyads.Theoretical Framework for IM Studies Media richness theory was first proposed by Richard Daft and Robert Lengel(1984) as an essay in Research in Organizational Behavior. They proposed that richnessis the “potential information-carrying capacity of data” and that “communication mediavary in the richness of information processed” (Daft & Lengel, 1984). Furthermore, ahierarchy of information media was created highlighting numeric formal communicationas the medium lowest in richness and face-to-face communication as the highest inrichness. Media richness was further defined by Trevino, Daft, & Lengel (1990) when theydescribed four characteristics of rich media: the availability of instant feedback, ability touse verbal and non-verbal cues, use of natural language, and the ability to conveyemotion. In an early study concerning IM communication, Segerstad & Ljungstrand(2002) compared the characteristics of IM communication to those of spoken and writtencommunication. The results suggest that in terms of media richness, IM communicationfalls somewhere in the middle. On the contrary, Cameron & Webster (2002) reported thatmost users in their study did not find IM to be a particularly rich environment, and theonly characteristic of media richness reported was that of instant feedback. Walther, Gay,& Hancock (2005) suggest that despite the wide availability of inexpensive hardwareenabling richer conversation (voice, video, etc), text based communication is still thepreferred mode for internet. Susan Herring (2004) also notes that despite the “newness”of IM and other CMC technologies, there really is relatively little difference between thepopular technologies of today and the technology which was cutting-edge in the 1970s. As a text-based medium, assumed to be low in richness compared to verbal orface-to-face communication, it seems as though IM communication should have 10
  19. 19. significantly lower levels of popularity than other available communication channels. It isboth intuitive and clear in existing studies that IM possesses the richness characteristic ofinstant feedback, but the precise location of IM on the scale of media richness isunknown. Inquiry is needed to ascertain the presence of non-verbal cues, naturallanguage, and the ability to convey emotion in IM conversation. The dominant method ofproviding non-verbal cues in IM is through the use of emoticons, or short collections ofalpha-numeric and punctuation characters used to express emotions that would normallybe conveyed nonverbally. For example, :-) (smiley face), :-( (frowny face), :-p (tonguesticking out) are all common emoticons. Additionally, the use of internet shorthand mustbe investigated to determine its prevalence in IM conversation. Finally, the use of IM toconvey emotion must also be measured to provide a true picture of the richness of themedium. In order to increase scholarly understanding of these various dimensions of IM,the following research questions are proposed: RQ1: What are the linguistic differences between male IM communication and female IM communication? RQ2: Do males and females differ in their use of psychological process words? RQ3: Do males and females differ in their use of relativity words? RQ4: Do males and females differ in their use of words about personal concerns? RQ5: Do males and females differ in their use of internet shorthand? (See Appendix B). RQ6: Is IM conversation more linguistically similar to spoken or written language?Users of IM TechnologyThe Adolescent User Schiano et al. (2002) note that adolescents are an especially salient population tostudy in the arena of IM communication. Not only are teenagers the largest populationgroup in the United States, comprising 13% of all Americans, they have also rushed toadopt new technologies at a significantly greater rate than their more aged counterparts.The study conducted by Schiano et al. discovered a significant difference between young 11
  20. 20. teens (7th grade) and older teens (12th grade) in self-reported use of IM technology,suggesting that the “younger” teen generations are much more frequent users of IM thantheir older counterparts. It is unknown whether usage declines as students grow older orif the difference is related to the diffusion of internet availability and IM awareness. Among adolescents, findings indicate a trend toward younger female IM usersspending the most time chatting. Other characteristics of teenage messaging include useof IM for discussing difficult topics, flirting, and asking questions about homework. Mostadolescents reported using IM exclusively to communicate with remote friends andfamily members, classmates, acquaintances, and friends of friends. IM was used tocontact local friends, but face-to-face, telephone, and other means of communicationwere also employed (Schiano et al., 2002). In a study conducted through more than 1,500 telephone interviews, Wolak,Mitchell, & Finkelhor (2002) examined close online relationships among adolescents anddiscovered that 55% of adolescents used various forms of CMC to converse with peoplethey did not know face-to-face. Additionally, 25% reported casual online friendships, anda further 14% reported close online friendships with someone they met online. Again, asignificant difference was discovered between males and females, with girls slightly morelikely to report casual or close online relationships. Sixty-six percent of relationshipsreported by girls were cross gender, a significant difference from the 79% of relationshipsreported by boys. Several adolescents in the study reported having developed friendshipswith adults online. Perhaps troubling to parents was the revelation that only 74% ofparents knew of their children’s online relationships. Grinter & Palen (2002) conducted 16 detailed interviews in a qualitative analysisof teenage instant messaging use. After analyzing the data, they divided users into twogroups: users with discrete connectivity and users with continuous connectivity. Discreteusers connect to the Internet via telephone modem or another method that requires theuser to disconnect after use. Continuous users, on the other hand, have an “always on”connection to the Internet, such as a digital subscriber line (DSL) or local area network(LAN). Half of the subjects with a continuous connection reported leaving IM softwarerunning 24 hours per day. For these users, use of IM technology was sporadic throughoutthe day, and intermingled with other activities on and off the computer (Grinter & Palen, 12
  21. 21. 2002). Additionally, the study noted that most IM conversations occurred with peopleadolescents frequently interacted with face-to-face. Although college students used IMmore than adolescents to maintain ties with distant friends and family members, theprimary use was still to converse with friends in relatively close geographic proximity. Grinter & Palen (2002) also reported user-expressed purposes for communicatingonline. Many respondents felt there was not enough time to communicate socially duringschool, so IM was adopted as an easy method for conversing with several friends at onceor independently. Respondents also reported developing expectations regarding whenfriends would be online, based on their knowledge of friends’ daily schedules andactivities. For most high school students, IM use began immediately after school, andevents of the day were the primary topics of conversation. At the conclusion of theirresearch, Grinter & Palen note that increasing degrees of autonomy marked significantchanges in IM use. While younger teens, the least autonomous, were most likely to useIM for social banter, these needs changed as autonomy increased. Landmark events suchas obtaining a drivers’ license and leaving home for college gave IM users increasedflexibility about when and where they could meet with friends to socialize. As a result,IM use for homework collaboration and socialization is partially supplanted with IM usefor updates and long distance relationship maintenance. In a subsequent study of adolescent internet use, Gross (2004) reports that internetcommunication tendencies between males and females have become more alike thandifferent. Adolescents of both sexes reported spending most of their time online using IMtechnology, with an average 40 minutes use daily. Gross’ (2004) study also upheld theprevious findings that adolescents primarily communicate online with people they knowoffline. Eighty-two percent of conversations were with “friends or best friends fromschool.” The most common topics of conversation reported were friends and gossip. In a comparative examination of IM use to telephone and in personcommunication, Boneva, Quinn, Kraut, Kiesler, & Shklovski (2006) suggest twoadolescent needs that are met with IM technology: maintaining individual friendships andpeer group belonging. Since face-to-face communication time may be limited by variousfactors, IM has become the communication medium of choice for many teens. Afteranalyzing data collected through quantitative telephone surveys and qualitative in-depth 13
  22. 22. interviews, the researchers reported several trends and characteristics in teenage instantmessaging. First, adolescents were the heaviest users of IM technology, and use decreaseddrastically as respondents’ ages increased. Further support was provided for IMconversations primarily occurring between peers: 87.5% of teens reported their mostrecent IM conversation was with a person in their neighborhood or town. The findings ofWolak et al. (2002) were supported with reports that IM conversations were nearly threetimes more likely to be cross gender than telephone or face-to-face interaction. Wolak and colleagues also found that IM tended to increase the scope ofadolescents’ social networks. Friendships begun at summer camps, vacations, and otherless proximate locales are able to be maintained more easily through the use of IM.Additionally, relationships with friends of friends or friends of family may be developedover IM which would not naturally have occurred in another medium. Interestingly, teensreported feeling “much less psychologically close” to IM communication partnerscompared with face-to-face and telephone communication partners. However, despite thedifference in psychological closeness, teens reported no significant difference in the levelof social support. Perhaps related is the finding that 87.8% of topics discussed via IMwere social, compared with 58.1% for in person and 54.5% for phone conversations. Support for anecdotal evidence of simultaneous dyadic communication was alsofound (Boneva et al., 2006). Only one respondent reported having never engaged insimultaneous communication with multiple conversation partners. Thirty-two percenthighlighted this ability as the defining characteristics leading to their affinity for IMtechnology. Also interesting was the revelation that most adolescents use IM to talk to“anyone on their Buddy List who [is] available online” (Boneva et al., 2006). Rather thanselecting certain individuals with which to converse, teenagers use IM to connect withwhoever is online at the time. The presence of notifications when a Buddy comes onlineor leaves gives users a “feeling of group presence” even though communication isoccurring in dyads. Boneva et al. also explored the use of “away messages” by IM users as a way ofmaintaining an online presence while offline. Users with a continuous internet connectionoften leave IM software connected all the time, but leave messages stating their current 14
  23. 23. location or activity when not present near the computer. Buddies can read the “awaymessage” and leave a message for the user, somewhat like a text-based answeringmachine. Finally, through analysis of adolescents’ “Buddy Lists,” Boneva et al. discoveredthat while most adolescents regularly converse with about 20 others online, more than75% had more than 20 buddies on their list, and many had in excess of 100 buddies.Interviews indicated that teens often have everyone they know from school on theirbuddy list, but IM communication typically occurs only between friends. The presence ofso many “unused” buddies provides further evidence for the use of IM as a way of feelingconnected to a group in the absence of physical presence.The College Student User More research has been conducted regarding college student use of IMtechnology than any other group. Perhaps this is because colleges are often the siteswhere research is conducted. However, college students compose an exemplary sampleof subjects for this type of research. Most college students are familiar with IMtechnology. Currently, college students are one of the largest demographic groups usingIM technology (Flanagin, 2005). The ubiquitous presence of high speed internet accesson college campuses ensures that most college students have continuous connectivity. Assuch, they are likely to be persistently logged in to IM networks. This situation creates anexcellent user base for the study of study IM communication. Several studies have been conducted to identify student motives forcommunicating online using IM services. Louis Leung conducted a study in 2001, inwhich he surveyed 448 college student users of the popular IM software ICQ. Using theframework of uses and gratifications theory, Leung investigated possible gratifications inusing ICQ software. In his analysis, he identified seven primary gratifications motivatingcollege students’ use of ICQ: affection, entertainment, relaxation, fashion, inclusion,sociability, and escape (Leung, 2001). Affection was the most prevalent gratification,explaining 27.05% of the variation. The questionnaire measured students’ use of ICQ to“to express appreciation, care for others’ feelings, show encouragement, offer help, andshow concern for others” (Leung, 2001). 15
  24. 24. In a similar study with a uses and gratifications theoretical foundation, Flanagin(2005) found slightly differing results. Only four gratifications were identified by theresearcher, those being social entertainment, task accomplishment, social attention, and tomeet new people. Social entertainment was by far the broadest category, explaining 54%of the total variance. In contrast, task accomplishment accounted for 7% of the variance,while social attention and to meet new people each accounted for 3% (Flanagin, 2005). Another interesting facet of this study was the hypothesis that use of IMtechnology would displace other communication technologies. Respondents indicated asignificant decrease in the use of land line telephones and e-mail since beginning use ofIM, supporting the hypothesis (Flanagin, 2005). During focus group research regarding college student internet use, Matthews &Schrum (2003) found that IM was the second most popular use of internet access,surpassed in use only by e-mail. Students in the focus groups reported “always” havingaccess to IM, and some even returned to their dorm rooms between classes to interactwith other students online. Several respondents mentioned communicating with aroommate in the same room or with friends in the same computer lab via IM. Grinter & Palen (2002) found that college students differed with adolescents inthe nature of their talk. Rather than “rapid fire gossipy exchange,” college studentstended to share personal experiences as “news updates.” The authors attribute thisdifference to the vastly different schedules which are typical of college students ascompared to the mostly homogeneous schedules enjoyed by students in high school. Kindred & Roper (2004) investigated use of IM through focus groups to explaincollege student use of IM to maintain personal relationships. The research supportedearlier studies and provided new insight and more detailed understanding of collegestudent IM use. Earlier research highlighting social communication with geographicallyclose peers as a primary use of IM was supported. In addition, focus group membersreported communicating with people in the same house or room. Reasons given for thisbehavior were laziness, privacy, and the ability to multi-task while communicating. The researchers also discovered that students often use away messages as a wayof managing their online identity. Many students use the away message as a forum forwitty phrases, quotations, poetry, or music lyrics. Students reported working to make the 16
  25. 25. away message as provocative as possible in order to solicit messages from friends whilethey are away. In addition, some users habitually check the away messages of otherbuddies as a way of keeping tabs on where they are and what they’re doing (Kindred &Roper, 2004). College students in the sample were frequent users of emoticons, using themprimarily as a way of coordinating meaning – if a text-based message might beunderstood to have multiple meanings, emoticons were used by the sender to clarify theintended meaning. Other research has examined use of the Internet in the formation of newrelationships. Early research suggested that those who experienced a high level of socialanxiety would be drawn to internet relationships as a way of mitigating that fear(McKenna & Bargh, 2000). However, research conducted by Katie Bonebrake (2002)found no significant difference between internet users who did or did not formrelationships over the Internet in the areas of general internet use, social skills, self-esteem, and loneliness, suggesting further research in this area is needed. In another study of IM among Swedish college students, Segerstad & Ljungstrand(2002) analyzed the logs of student conversations to identify similarities and differencesbetween IM conversation and written or spoken conversation. The level of mediarichness in IM was reported to be somewhere between that of spoken and writtenlanguage. This location of IM on the hierarchy of media richness was further supported byNaomi Baron (2004). Her study set out to provide a linguistic profile of college studentIM use to define the differences between male and female online communication. Afteranalyzing logs of nine male-male IM conversations and nine female-female IMconversations, significant differences were identified and discussed. Female-femaleconversations were significantly larger in terms of turns (composition and transmission ofan instant message) and duration. Males used contractions more often and emoticons lessoften than females. The study concludes with the finding that IM usage among college students is ablend of conversational and written English, supporting the finding of Segerstad &Ljungstrand (2002). Students use filler words frequently, and take multiple turns to close 17
  26. 26. a conversation, similar to spoken English. On the other hand, the author noted the relativeobscurity of internet shorthand and abbreviations in the instant messaging, and noted thatmany students would correct spelling mistakes from a previous turn in a subsequent turn.In another article, Baron (2005) noted that punctuation in IM conversations is remarkablygood. All these are features much more indicative of written English (Baron, 2004). Baron’s research is among the few studies conducted regarding linguisticdimensions of instant messaging. Yet, it is based on a relatively small corpus of IMconversations which occurred between confederates and subjects at the behest of theresearcher. Although this research provides basic statistics about turn and conversationlength, filler words, contractions, and emoticons, this study does little to define the actualcontent of IM conversations.The Business User A third large constituent of IM users, and perhaps the user base with the mostpotential for growth, is the enterprise user. As early as 1999, law firms began using IM asa way of communicating inexpensively with overseas clients (Samborn, 1999). Bigbusiness soon caught on that IM afforded a simple way to cut travel and communicationexpenses. Today, more than 3.5 million IMs per day are sent within the IBM corporatenetwork alone, saving the company 4% on phone usage and over $4 million annually onbusiness travel (Bird, 2003). Industry research firm The Radicati Group, Inc. estimatesthat 135 million workers currently use IM at their place of employment. This number isexpected to grow to 477 million by 2009 (Hart, 2006). One of the first studies to examine IM use in the workplace was conducted byNardi and colleagues (2000). Through observation of 20 workplace IM users, theresearchers prepared an ethnography of IM communication, noting several enterprisefunctions of instant messaging. The uses identified were: to support quick questions andclarifications, for coordination and scheduling, to coordinate impromptu face-to-facemeetings, and to keep in touch with friends and family (Nardi, Whittaker, & Bradner,2000). The authors noted that quick questions and clarifications were often answeredmore quickly through IM than other available communication channels. Telephone, for 18
  27. 27. example, is only useful if the call recipient is in close proximity to the phone and answersit, while e-mail may be checked only sporadically throughout the day. In contrast, IMcommunication is the first thing the recipient sees when returning to their workstation,and usually a reply is sent before other work is resumed. Another major use of IM in business was for coordination and scheduling.Workers noted that in a busy office, time slots when everyone needed for a meeting isavailable are rare. IM afforded the quickest way for administrative assistants andmanagers to check everyone’s availability and lock in a time for the meeting. In addition,IM was used frequently for scheduling impromptu face-to-face meetings. The immediacyof IM communication made it the preferred channel for coordinating lunch plans orcoffee runs. Often, workers would insert suggestions for lunch or coffee into moreserious conversations. Finally, the non-disruptive nature of IM facilitated its use as a channel forcommunication with friends and family while in the workplace. Messaging of this typewas characterized as brief. Workers enjoyed the ability to step out of a busy day at work,even if just for a moment, to interact with friends and loved ones (Nardi et al., 2000). The researchers also noted frequent “media switching” when the conversationbecame too complicated for IM communication. Requests like “Can I call you?” and “Letme come over and sketch it out for you,” were used to switch the medium ofcommunication from text-based messaging to telephone or face-to-face communication.Two reasons for media switching were identified: the conversation became complex tothe degree it was more efficient to talk than to type, or the workers needed to have accessto a shared visual workspace in order to communicate ideas effectively. Later research of Isaacs, Walendowski, Whittaker, Schiano, & Kamm (2002)provided a quantitative picture of workplace IM. Through analysis of several thousandworkplace IM conversations, the study provided a more detailed picture of corporate IMusage. Isaacs et al. revisited the uses of IM proposed by Nardi et al. (2000) andquantified them through content analysis of log files. The first function of workplace IMwas to support quick questions and clarifications. Isaacs et al. defined this as“conversations that covered a single topic and stayed focused on accomplishing a goal, 19
  28. 28. ending when the issue was resolved” (Isaacs et al., 2002). These conversations comprised27.8% of all workplace IM conversations, and 91.4% of these were entirely work related.Infrequent IM pairs were the most likely to engage in quick questions and clarifications,while frequent pairs of heavy IM users were the least likely to use the technology for thispurpose. This supported the research of Nardi et al. (2000) which identified quickquestions and clarifications as a primary use of IM. Use of IM for scheduling and coordination also proved to be a significant activity,with 30.8% of conversations involving discussion of scheduling or coordination (Isaacs etal., 2002). On the other hand, use of IM for personal or family conversation proved to bemuch less frequent than was previously expected. Only 13% of conversations includedsocial (non-work related) talk, and only 6.8% of conversations were exclusively personal.Heavy IM users were more likely to engage in social talk, as were frequent conversationpairs. This study revealed that while media switching was present, it did not occurespecially often. IM was abandoned for telephone communication 6.8% of the time andfor face-to-face interaction 8.8% of the time. Asynchronous media such as e-mail, web,or fax was the destination of the switch in 2.2% of conversations. IM was used toschedule impromptu meetings or to organize participants for a pre-arranged meeting, butmedia switching only occurred 2.8% of the time because IM became inadequate for thetopic at hand. Other characteristics of workplace IM use uncovered by Isaacs et al. (2002)included the presence of multitasking, the relative absence of simultaneous IMconversations, usage patterns in IM use, and social use of IM conversation. Althoughsurvey and interview studies have revealed that many IM users perform other tasks whilecommunicating via IM, this study succeeded in quantifying multitasking behavior. TheIM software used in this study logged when a party in the conversation moved thecomputer window focus from the chat application to another window. Analysis of theselog entries revealed that at least one party multi-tasked 85.7% of the time (Isaacs et al.,2002). When a smaller sample of the IM corpus was examined by hand, it was revealedthat 10% of the discussions involving multi-tasking involved digital media viewed in 20
  29. 29. another application. Simple math reveals that 75% of workers multitasked with non-related activities while communicating via IM. The researchers were also surprised to find a relative lack of simultaneous IMconversations. Studies from adolescents and college students have indicated that mostusers in these categories converse with multiple partners at once (Boneva et al., 2006).However, this finding was not duplicated in this workplace study. Only 4.3% of usersconducted overlapping conversations, and an overwhelming 77% never communicatedwith multiple partners at the same time (Isaccs et al., 2002). Interesting use patterns were also identified from the corpus of corporate IM logs.Isaacs et al. identified “heavy” and “light” IM users based on the frequency of IMtechnology use. They then identified three possible communication dyads: heavy-heavy,heavy-light, and light-light. The results indicated that heavy users’ conversations weremarked by significantly more turns than light users, but that light users used significantlymore words per turn (Isaacs et al., 2002). This would seem to suggest that the light usersof IM treat it more like “instant email,” while heavy users use it much more like regularconversation. Cameron & Webster (2005) conducted qualitative interviews with employeesfrom four different companies who used IM in the workplace. Using theoreticalperspectives, the authors were able to provide insight regarding why workers wouldchoose to use IM. The theories informing these choices were critical mass, symboliccues, and media richness. Critical mass was a key point in workers’ decisions to use IM technology.Pragmatically, workers wanted to use the communication channel which would allowthem to communicate with the largest number of co-workers with the least effort. In onecompany, nearly every employee used IM technology, while another company had only ahandful that used IM, suggesting that critical mass had not yet been reached. Whencritical mass is reached, it causes rapid adoption of the technology across the enterprise. Workplace IM users developed “rules” for determining when to use the mediumas a channel for communication. Respondents often used IM “to indicate a less formaltone, to get another user’s attention, to get a quick response, and to symbolize efficiency” 21
  30. 30. (Cameron & Webster, 2005). On the other hand, users found the medium unsuitable forformal or official communication and emotional interchange. In terms of media richness, interviewees found IM to lack richness. Of thedimensions of media richness, only instant feedback was appreciated by the users, andeven this feature was only mentioned by 53% of the subjects in the study. Further aspects of workplace IM usage uncovered involved concepts ofreplacement, polychronicity, privacy, and fairness. Cameron & Webster’s studysupported Flanagin’s (2005) research indicating that IM often serves as a replacementtechnology for telephone, email, or face-to-face communication. Workers often found IMto be much more efficient than other available communication channels. Polychronicity is defined as the “concurrent completion of multiple tasks”(Cameron & Webster, 2005). The researchers identified three different types ofworkplace polychronicity. One involves communication with the same individual viamultiple communication technologies, such as conversing on the telephone while sendinginternet web addresses via IM. The second involves communication with two differentindividuals via separate communication technologies, such as conversing with one personon the telephone while communicating via IM with another. The third type ofpolychronistic communication defined by Cameron & Webster was called queuejumping, attempting to initiate communication with someone already involved incommunication with another via a different medium (Cameron & Webster, 2005). Privacy was another feature workers appreciated about IM technology. Because itis text based, others in close proximity can only “eavesdrop” on conversations if they arephysically watching the computer screen, unlike telephone conversations which may beeasily overheard. Many interviewees mentioned the capacity of IM to interrupt otherwork or disrupt concentration on other tasks. In spite of this, workers found IM to be lessdisruptive than telephone or face-to-face interaction (Cameron & Webster, 2005). In a study of organizational effects on IM use, Turner, Grube, Tinsley, Lee, &O’Pell (2006) found that increased perception of supervisor IM use led to increasedemployee IM use. Data also provided marginal support for the hypothesis that strongerperceived organizational norms for using IM would result in increased employee use ofIM (Turner et al., 2006). The researchers also measured polychronicity in employees, 22
  31. 31. defined as “the extent to which people in a culture prefer to be engaged in two or moretasks or events simultaneously and believe their preference is the best way to do things”(Bluedorn, Kalliath, Strube, & Martin, 1999). They found that users with a higherpolychronistic orientation demonstrated a stronger link between perceived organizationalIM norms and reported use of the technology. Most surprisingly, more frequent IM userswere rated higher by management on performance evaluations than those who were lessfrequent users. Use of IM technology accounted for nearly 30% of the evaluationvariance (Turner et al., 2006).Education and IM The efforts of many brick and mortar schools to offer web-based distanceeducation classes have increased in recent years, as have the number of virtual-onlyeducational institutions. Student-teacher and student-student interaction is mostcommonly achieved through e-mail, course website posting, and IM technology. In Scott Nicholson’s (2002) study, he examined the potential of IMcommunication to replace the common spaces before and after class where materialwould be discussed and students would interact socially. He surveyed students in a web-based master’s level library science course. Some students in the class chose to use IMtechnology, while others did not. Several significant findings for online education wererevealed. Students who used IM communicated more with other students from the classthan students who did not use IM. Messaging software also seemed to replace traditionaltelephone and web discussion board communication for those students who used IM.Additionally, students who used IM were significantly more likely to feel a sense ofcommunity with their classmates and found friendships easier to form (Nicholson, 2002). The most common uses of IM for students in the class were not groupcollaboration or discussion of homework, but rather discussion about the school orprogram they were enrolled in or for social communication. Some students noted theirenjoyment of a method of communicating with other classmates outside the auspices ofthe school or professor. Prior to implementation of IM in the distance course, all methodsof collaboration were monitored through the course management software and subject toviewing by the instructor. 23
  32. 32. Students also appreciated availability of the instructor via IM to answer questionsand concerns they might have about the class. In addition to requesting information,students also used IM to connect with the instructor socially, further enhancing the senseof community felt by the students (Nicholson, 2002). On the other hand, a similar study conducted with students in a distance educationclass revealed that students from a class that used using IM to communicate had a lowerdegree of participation than students in a class that did not use IM to communicate(Hrastinski, 2006). However, this study did acknowledge that students who actuallyadopted IM technology (as opposed to simply being in the class with the option of IM)showed higher levels of class participation. Weller, Pegler, & Mason (2005) conducted a study in which they introduced fourcomputer-mediated technologies into a web-based classroom. Students rated theirpreferences for using each technology. By a significant margin, the most popularcommunication technology used was IM. Of the four technologies rated, only IM was notrated as “least favoured” by any students (Weller et al., 2005). High school academic advisor Julia Alling (2006) provides anecdotal evidence ofthe usefulness of IM communication in education. Alling relates her experiences withseveral student advisees after finally installing IM software on her computer. Allingdiscovered that the level of communication shifted to a much deeper level thanpreviously experienced in face-to-face communication. One advisee began discussing arange of topics including “relationships with other advisees to grievances about teachersand grades.” Another advisee opened up in a new way over IM, and Alling was able toconvince the girl to seek formal counseling – something which she reports might neverhave happened outside the medium of IM. In this account, Alling (2006) conveys herexperience with IM as one of “contradictory immediacy and distance.” It is thisjuxtaposition of the apparent lack of richness with the considerable depth of expressionoccurring via IM which creates an obstacle to clearly defining the media’s richness. Fewstudies discuss the level of immediacy provided by IM communication, opening this areaof inquiry as another needed path for future studies. 24
  33. 33. Other Phenomena within IM Several studies have investigated other communication phenomena within themedium of IM. Since IM is a relatively new communication channel, researchers haveexerted a great deal of effort examining psychological and communication trends andtendencies which are well documented in other media. For example, Lina Zhou (2005) conducted a study to assess the behavioralindicators of deception in IM. The study involved subjects communicating via IM tocome to consensus about the relative importance of items in a desert survival scenario.One partner in each group was assigned as the deceiver to provide the study withexamples of deceiver and non-deceiver IM behavior. First, participation in the conversation, measured in number of turns, averagepause intervals, and response delay, was found to be higher for deceivers. Deceivers alsotended to initiate the discussion significantly more often than truth tellers. The frequencyof message correction (i.e., typing a partial response, erasing, and typing a new response)was less for deceivers than for truth tellers. Cognitive complexity was also found to behigher for the deceivers than for the truth tellers. This was measured by the number ofcognitive operations. Finally, non-immediacy in the conversation, measured by thepresence of lexical indicators of detachment, was found to be significantly higher fordeceivers (Zhou, 2005). In a study regarding establishing interpersonal trust via IM, Feng, Lazar, & Preece(2004) found that participants in online communication were rated as significantly moretrustworthy when displaying empathic accuracy and supportive response in a variety ofpersonal scenarios. Providing a quantitative examination of the phenomenon experienced by Alling(2006), Adam Joinson (2001) discovered that visually anonymous communicators engagein significantly higher levels of self-disclosure than do individuals in face-to-face orvideoconference settings. The virtual anonymity of text-based mediated communicationprovides an environment extremely conducive to self-disclosure at a high level (Joinson,2001). 25
  34. 34. Effects of IM Use Much has been written about psychosocial effects of the Internet and IMtechnology. Studies within this category are more contradictory than any other,necessitating further examination of the effects of internet use and IM communication.Studies which reported negative effects of instant messaging use will be reported first,followed by studies reporting positive effects.Negative One of the most well known studies of internet effects was conducted by Kraut etal. (1998). In a comprehensive study of 93 families with new computers and homeinternet access in the Pittsburgh, PA area (the HomeNet Project), researchers reportedalarming trends in the use of the Internet. Kraut et al. (1998) reported that during thecourse of the study, both the local and distant social circles of the families involveddeclined. In addition, increases in internet use resulted in increased levels of lonelinessand depression. There was even a weak link reported between internet use and stress(Kraut et al., 1998). This study was influential in motivating a slew of internet and CMCresearchers to begin serious investigations of the effects of internet use. A later article which Kraut co-authored (Cummings, Buter, & Kraut, 2002)concluded that the Internet was less useful for maintaining relationships than face-to-facecontact. The article called for further research to determine whether or not use of theInternet served as a replacement for more socially active offline activities. Results fromSanders, Field, Diego, & Kaplan (2000) also indicated that increased internet use led toweaker social ties, specifically ties to friends and mothers. Lee & Perry (2004) investigated the inability of some students to self-regulatetheir internet use, reporting that 7% of IM users skipped meals to continue using IM, 47%delayed sleep, 8% skipped work, 8% skipped classes, and 6% lied about the reason forthe absences. This study suggests that for some, use of IM may have addictive traits. Hall& Parsons (2001) suggest therapy to reduce dependence on the Internet. In spite of thedispositions of a few, these studies should be taken in the context that most students donot exhibit an inability self-regulate and this excessive use of the Internet is a symptom ofthe problem, not a cause. 26
  35. 35. Positive The increase in internet effects research sparked by the findings of Kraut et al.(1998) led to a flurry of reports on internet effects, most of which refuted the results ofthe HomeNet Project. McKenna & Bargh (1999) reported that people do not feel lonelieras a result of their use of the Internet. In fact, the results of their two year studydemonstrated that only 6% of respondents felt lonelier as a result of internet use, while51% felt less lonely. McKenna and Bargh (1999) also called into question the samplingmethod of the HomeNet Project, noting that participants were not selected randomly, butwere selected because the family included a high school student or a member of acommunity Board of Directors. Participants in the HomeNet study, according toMcKenna & Bargh, may have had no intrinsic interest in internet access, which mayexplain the surprising findings of Kraut et al. (1998). Additionally, the researchers notedthat families with a member on a Board of Directors likely had abnormally large socialcircles to begin with, and the significant but slight decrease in size was nothing to bealarmed about. McKenna & Bargh (1999) also reported drastically different results from theirstudy in regards to depression and size of social circle. Only 2% of respondents in theMcKenna & Bargh study reported more feelings of depression after beginning to use theInternet, while 21% reported a decrease in depression. Similarly, 67% of respondentsreported a social circle which had grown since beginning internet use (McKenna &Bargh, 1999). A smaller study also supported the finding that internet use is not related todepression (Sanders et al., 2000). An eight-week study conducted by Shaw & Gant (2002) also reported positiveeffects of internet communication. Participants in the study were assigned a partner toengage in IM conversations over the duration of the study. Measures were taken before,during, and after the study to assess levels of depression, loneliness, self-esteem, andperceptions of social support. The results were overwhelmingly supportive of thehypothesis that chatting on the Internet would have beneficial effects on participants.Significantly lower levels of depression and loneliness were reported at the end of the 27
  36. 36. study, as were significantly higher levels of self-esteem and perceptions of social support(Shaw & Gant, 2002). The plethora of studies contradicting the findings of Kraut et al. (1998) led theresearchers to revisit their own study. After following up with many of the originalparticipants in the HomeNet study, the researchers determined that the only effect thatremained significant over time was the positive correlation between stress and internetuse. In the same article, a second study was highlighted in which the authors examinedfamilies who had recently purchased either a new television or a new computer. In thisstudy, Kraut et al. found that those who used the Internet experienced an increase in thesize of their local social circle, their extended social circle, and the amount of time spentwith family and friends. These internet users also became more involved in communityactivities and were more trusting of others (Kraut et al., 2002). One significant interactioneffect occurred within the variable of level of extroversion. Internet users who wereextroverts were significantly more likely to achieve positive results from internet usewhile introverts were likely to achieve negative results. In order to understand more precisely the types of internet behaviors that mightlead to depression, Morgan & Cotton (2003) conducted a study which isolated specificinternet activities and measured symptoms of depression. The study concluded thatincreased time spent using e-mail and IM led to lower depression while increased use ofinternet shopping, playing games, and research was linked with higher depression. Thisstudy suggests that communication over the Internet has similar benefits to other forms ofinterpersonal communication by increasing the social health of the user.Word Choices and Psychological States Several studies using LIWC have suggested that analysis of writing provideslinguistic indicators of psychological functions. Cohn and his colleagues (2004) foundmarked shifts in language use in online journals before and after September 11, 2001,suggesting the negative mood and psychological state of many Americans was reflectedin their choice of words. In their study regarding language use and personality,Pennebaker & Graybeal (2001) found that “language use correlates with real-worldbehaviors at least as highly as many traditional personality dimensions do.” Not 28
  37. 37. surprisingly, Bohanek, Fivush, and Walker (2005) found that narratives of positiveexperiences contained more positive emotion words while narratives of negativeexperiences combined more negative emotion words. The body of research surrounding internet use has suggested that onlinecommunication leads to decreased feelings of loneliness, decreased feelings ofdepression, increased social circles, and increased levels of self-esteem. All of thesefindings point to a net positive effect of IM communication for users. In addition,numerous studies have supported the claim that individuals’ psychological states arereflected in their writing. These findings lead to the proposal of the following hypothesis: H2: Amount of positive emotion language will be positively correlated with messaging frequency.Summary Many gender-based communication tendencies have been observed and discussedin the scholarly literature. Men are perceived as more dominant, controlling, andconcerned with establishing and maintaining status (Deaux & Major, 1987; Wood, 1994).Men also tend to use more absolutes and abstraction, and more often demonstrate a lackof sympathy (Wood, 1994). Women are perceived as more expressive and concerned with others (Deaux &Major, 1987). Women are more cooperative in their conversations, work harder toestablish equality between people, and are often tentative, using more hedges andqualifiers than men (Strough & Berg, 2000; Wood, 1994). The three major user groups of IM which have been the subject of scholarlyinquiry are adolescents, college students, and business users. Adolescents are one of thelargest and most frequent user groups of IM technology (Schiano et al., 2002). Teenagersmost frequently use IM for social interaction with local friends, but online relationshipsoccasionally occur with others who are unknown face-to-face (Schiano et al., 2002;Grinter & Palen, 2002; Wolak et al., 2002; Gross, 2004). The second major user group of IM technology is college students (Flanagin,2005). College students are motivated to use IM for affection, entertainment, relaxation, 29
  38. 38. fashion, inclusion, sociability, escape, social entertainment, task accomplishment, socialattention, and to meet new people (Leung, 2001; Flanagin, 2005). Messaging is used bycollege students to maintain personal relationships, and the medium is especially popularbecause of the ability to multi-task (Kindred & Roper, 2004). The third group of IM users which has received significant scholarly attention isfound in the workplace. Workplace IM users may be the fastest growing user base (Hart,2006). Characteristics of workplace IM communication includes use to answer quickquestions and make clarifications, for coordination and scheduling, to set up impromptuface-to-face meetings, and to keep in touch with friends and family (Nardi et al., 2000;Isaacs et al., 2002). In education, IM has been used successfully in distance courses as a means forproviding interactivity between students outside the purview of the course instructor.Students most often used IM in the distance education setting for discussion of theirschool or program and for social communication (Nicholson, 2002). Use of IMtechnology in educational contexts is popular with students (Weller et al., 2005), andstudents who adopt IM technology in distance education demonstrate higher levels ofclass participation (Hrastinski, 2006). Early studies of IM indicated a number of negative effects of internet and IMcommunication, such as decrease in social circle, increased levels of loneliness, stressand depression, and habitual use (Kraut et al., 1998; Cummings et al., 2002; Lee & Perry,2004). Despite these alarming results, other studies created cause for serious skepticismabout the methods and results of these early reports. Researchers reported decreasedlevels of loneliness and depression, and increases in the size of social circles, self-esteem,and perceptions of social support, and increased levels of trusting (McKenna & Bargh,1999; Shaw & Gant, 2002; Kraut et al., 2002; Morgan & Cotton, 2003). 30
  39. 39. Chapter 3: MethodsIntroduction This study explored the possibility that word usage in IM conversations ispredictive of specific gender dyads and frequency of messaging behavior. Additionally,this study describes the significant differences between male and female IM behavior.This study hypothesized that IM conversations in female-female dyads would have thehighest percentage of affective/emotional process language, followed by female-maledyads, and finally, male-male dyads. In addition, this study hypothesized that users with ahigher percentage of positive emotion language would be more frequent IM users. Thischapter discusses the methods and procedures used to answer the research questions andtest the hypotheses.Sample Participants for this study were selected from students in undergraduatecommunication courses at a mid-sized Midwestern university. Participants from the poolwere required to own a personal notebook computer and have a screen name for AOLInstant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, or MSN Messenger. Notebook computer userswere used exclusively because the logistics of installing logging software, collecting logs,and removing logging software became a barrier with stationary computers. Additionally,participants consented to having conversation logging software installed on theircomputer for a period of 14 days to collect their IM conversations. This time periodallowed a sizeable number of logs to be collected, and allowed data to be collected duringmultiple weekdays and weekends. Ninety-eight students consented to the loggingsoftware installation. From the collected logs a total of 856 unique communicators wereidentified (494 female, 362 male) in 3,092 individual conversations.Measurement Instrument Use of words in IM conversations were tabulated using Linguistic Inquiry andWord Count (LIWC, Pennebaker, Francis, & Booth, 2001). LIWC is a software analysisprogram that parses text files and assigns each word to one of 74 categories based on its 31
  40. 40. dictionary of 2300 words and word stems. For each processed text file, LIWC calculatesthe word count and percentage of the total number of words that fall into each category. Previous research with LIWC has involved positive and negative emotionalevents, truthfulness and deception, expression and disclosure, and somatic symptoms andmood (Bohanek, Fivush, & Walker, 2005; Bond & Lee, 2005; Luterek, Orsillo, & Marx,2005; Soliday, Garofalo, & Rogers, 2004). In their evaluation of computerized textanalysis using LIWC, Alpers et al. (2005) found evidence for the construct validity andconcurrent validity of the LIWC program. Content validity, the degree of congruence between a measure and the content it isintended to cover (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955), was measured by the same method used byAlpers et al. (2005). The percentage of recognized words in the IM log files wascompared to the percentage of recognized words reported by Pennebaker et al. (2001) intheir analysis of conversation. Similarity in the percentage of recognized words was takenas evidence of content validity.Analysis The analytic process for this study took place in three steps: data collection, dataformatting, and data analysis. The formatting and analysis processes varied slightly basedon the hypothesis or research question being investigated. What follows are the stepswhich were taken for each hypothesis or research question.Data Collection After participants were briefed on the nature and purpose of the study and gaveinformed consent, the researcher installed logging software on subjects’ computers. After14 days, subjects returned to have log files harvested and logging software removed. Thisinvolved copying the log data to a portable drive and uninstalling the logging softwarefrom the participants’ computers. Subjects were given the option to view their logs andremove any conversations or portions of conversations at their discretion. This wasallowed to reduce subjects’ anxiety about having conversations logged, and to allowparticipants an opportunity to remove any information they felt uncomfortable sharingwith the researcher without removing the entire log. Only one participant chose to review 32
  41. 41. the log files, and after that review, one conversation was erased. The remainingconversation logs were used in the study. Logs were exported as plain text filescompressed as ZIP archives and saved to a central location which was secure andaccessible only to the researcher. Archive files were identified using the namingconvention specified in Figure 1 to ensure confidentiality. Filename = Gender(M/F) – 4 Digit Sequential number – Class Year.zip For example, log files from screen name EmilyWrites702, female, junior, was archived in: 0001 – F – junior.zipFigure 1. Log file archive naming convention for data collection.Data Formatting for H1 Log file archives for all subjects were uncompressed and individual conversationswere analyzed to determine the gender of the chat participants. Chats were renamed usingthe naming convention specified in Figure 2 to identify the gender dyad present in theconversation. Three conversations were discarded because the gender of both participantscould not be determined. In every conversation, screen names were recorded to aid inscripted replacement prior to analysis. Filename = GenderAGenderB(MM/MF/FF) – 5 Digit Sequential number.txt For example, the log file from a conversation between EmilyWrites702, female, and MovieWtchr5, male, was saved as: MF – 00001.txtFigure 2. Log file naming convention for H1 data formatting. Upon completion of log file separation by conversation dyad, a global search andreplace was used across all files to remove all system messages which were present in thelog files. System messages include messages sent from the IM client or service, warnings 33
  42. 42. about multiple sign-ins of the same screen name, and notifications of buddies signing onor off. Additionally, global spell check was used to fix common typos and spelling errorsin the logs to ensure maximum automated word recognition. Additionally, a customdictionary of internet shorthand (see Appendix B) was imported into LIWC to allowrecognition of commonly used internet shorthand. A master search and replace script wasused to replace all screen names with four digit numbers. Female screen names werereplaced with four digit numbers starting with 1, while male screen names were replacedwith four digit numbers starting with 2. This step maintained the identity of each speakerthroughout the log files, but also anonymized the logs so only the gender of the speakercould be determined. Proper names used within the conversations were also removed.The master search and replace list was destroyed to ensure the privacy and completeanonymity of conversation participants. Sample formatted conversation logs arepresented in Appendix C.Analysis for H1 LIWC software was configured to analyze text for the presence ofaffective/emotional process language (see Table 1). Computer analysis was performed oneach log file. Data was analyzed in SPSS using a univariate analysis of variance(ANOVA). The independent variable was Dyad Type with nominal values of MM, MF,FF. The dependent variable was the percentage of affective/emotional process languageused. 34
  43. 43. Table 1.Affective or Emotional Process LanguageDimension ExamplesAffective or Emotional Processes happy, ugly, bitter Positive Emotions happy, pretty, good Positive feelings happy, joy, love Optimism and energy certainty, pride, win Negative Emotions hate, worthless, enemy Anxiety or fear nervous, afraid, tense Anger hate, kill, pissed Sadness or depression grief, cry, sad(Pennebaker et al., 2001)Data Formatting for H2 Log file archives were uncompressed and each individual conversation log wasconcatenated into a single master text. Search and replace was used to remove all systemmessages and other non-conversation text which was present in the log files.Additionally, spell check was used to fix typos and common spelling errors present in thelogs to ensure maximum automated word recognition. Spreadsheet software was used tosort the data by screen name, and individual files containing all turns by each uniquescreen name were created using the naming convention specified in Figure 3. A mastersearch and replace script was used to replace the screen names with four digit numbers inthe same manner as was done for Hypothesis 1. Filename = Gender – 5 Digit Sequential number.txt For example, the log file containing all turns from screen name EmilyWrites702, female, was saved as: F – 00001.txtFigure 3. Log file naming convention for H2 data formatting. 35
  44. 44. Analysis for H2 LIWC software was configured to analyze text for the presence of positiveemotions (see Table 2). Computer analysis was performed on each log file. Data wasanalyzed using the Pearson Product Movement Correlation with variables of word countand percentage of positive emotion language.Table 2.Positive Emotion LanguageDimension Examples Positive Emotions happy, pretty, good Positive feelings happy, joy, love Optimism and energy certainty, pride, win(Pennebaker et al., 2001)Data Formatting for Research Questions Log file archives were uncompressed and each individual conversation log wasconcatenated into a single master text. Search and replace was used to remove all timestamps and system messages which were present in the log files. Additionally, spellcheck was used to fix typos and spelling errors present in the logs to ensure maximumautomated word recognition. Spreadsheet software was used to sort the data by screenname, and individual files containing all turns by each unique screen name were createdusing the naming convention specified in Figure 3. A master search and replace scriptwas used to replace all screen names with four digit numbers in the same manner as wasdone for Hypothesis 1. Once the data was separated into individual files, these formattedlog files were separated by gender.Analysis for Research Questions 1-5 LIWC software was configured to analyze text for 13 linguistic dimensions (totalpronouns, articles, prepositions), 25 psychological process dimensions (optimism,anxiety, inhibition), 10 relativity dimensions (time, space), 19 personal concern 36

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