Walther’s Social Information
JEMAIMA RAE C. PORTER
• Royal Shakespeare Company at Coastline Community College
• University of Arizona and graduating magna cum laude in 1983.
• University of Arizona, earning a Master’s degree in speech communication
in 1984 and a doctorate in 1990.
• Social information processing theory in 1992.
• Hyperpersonal model of communication in 1996
• Has been a Professor in various communication schools since 1990
• 2006- current:
> Professor, Dept. of Communication, Michigan State University
> Dept. of Telecommunication, Information Studies and
Media, Michigan State University
• SIP is all about Computer-MediatedCommunication (CMC).
e.g. e-mail ; Instant Messaging and other
types of text-based non-verbal
• This theory indicates that CMC users can
adapt this restricted medium and use it
effectively to develop close relationships.
• The theory’s [SIP ‘s] general consensus was
that CMC was not a good medium to develop
• There existed these 3 theories:
– Social presence theory: CMC deprives users of the
sense that another actual person is involved
– Media richness theory: CMC’s bandwidth is too
narrow to convey rich relational messages.
– Cues filtered out: Interpretation of CMC that
regards lack of none-verbal cues as a fatal flaw for
using the medium for relationship development.
• Even without the rich none-verbal present in
face-to-face communication, given enough
time CMC users can develop relationships just
as strong as those done through face-to-face
– If you were handed a glass of water you could
choose to either gulp it straight from the glass, or
through a straw one sip at a time.
– The amount of time it takes to develop the
• CMC users rely on text-only messages to
convey the information that nonverbal cues
would do in face-to-face encounters.
– “You’ve Got Mail”
• Online communication
o CMC users form
impressions by the
content of the message
o The response time of
o Delayed response
o Prompt response
o Relationship Stage
o Tone the sender wants to
o Facial Expressions
o Tone of Voice
o Body position
28 pairs of students split into face-toface and CMC users, with no prior
relationship with one another.
Asked to discuss moral dilemmas, and one
person in each of the pairs was a confederate
with a goal to either be friendly or unfriendly.
Confederates in the CMC group were able to convey
friendliness or unfriendliness just as successfully as the
ones in face-to-face.
• Any message spoken in
person will take at least
four times longer to say
• Two other temporal factors
could contribute to
intimacy on the internet:
interaction and chronemics.
More about that
• Chronemics: The study of people’s systematic
handling of time in their interaction with
• Anticipated future interaction: A way of
extending psychological time; the likelihood of
future interaction motivates CMC users to
develop a relationship.
– If you know you’ll be interacting with
someone, you’re more likely to disclose more
information about yourself.
Looking at the Theory
SIP Theory is consistent with
oSocial Penetration Theory
oUncertainty Reduction Theory
Looking at the Theory
Hyper-Personal perspective: CMC relationships that
they are more intimate than romances or friendships
would be if partners were together.
•The use of online dating might actually make relationships form faster
because of anticipation of future interaction makes the impression forming
process go faster.
•People who use CMC to join online discussion groups may have a higher
need for affiliation than the typical person whose relationships are developed
through multichannel modes of communication.
•The theory has plenty of holes
and the author openly admits
that. The theory makes some
claims that some may feel are
farfetched but the depth of
research and analysis provided
by Walther make it a respected
and validated theory.
• Convince of sending the o People become more
message in your own
self-absorbed and less
• The Intimacy of the
o CMC relationship will
relationship would be
be weaker/fragile (when
establishing the relationship)
the same if they meet
o Logging off
o Terminating the
The Theory proves that there is no difference on
the long term effect of the relationship, where
the two individuals meet:
That it would not have an effect of
the Intimacy of the relationship.
• The Theory proves that the an online relationships
will take longer with the communication channels
compared to an face-to-face communication
• The Theory shows that the
CMC Users are more than
likely to be Single rather than
in a current relationship