Online persuasion: an examination of gender differences in computer mediates interpersonal influence
Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice Copyright 2002 by the Educational Publishing Foundation2002, Vol. 6, No. 1, 38 –51 1089-2699/02/$5.00 DOI: 10.1037//1089-2618.104.22.168 Online Persuasion: An Examination of Gender Differences in Computer-Mediated Interpersonal Inﬂuence Rosanna E. Guadagno and Robert B. Cialdini Arizona State University The purpose of this research was to investigate how computer-mediated communica- tion affects persuasion in dyadic interactions. Two studies compared participants’ attitudes after hearing a series of arguments from a same-gender communicator via either e-mail or face-to-face interaction. In Study 1, women showed less message agreement in response to e-mail versus face-to-face messages, whereas men showed no difference between communication modes. Study 2 replicated this ﬁnding and exam- ined the impact of prior interaction with the communicator. For women, the condition that provided the least social interaction led to the least message agreement. For men, the condition that provided the most social challenge led to the least message agree- ment. Results are interpreted in terms of gender differences in interaction style. A mounting body of evidence indicates that It is noteworthy that social psychological re-communication modality inﬂuences the charac- search on persuasion has rarely examined eitherter and effectiveness of the communication pro- computer-mediated or face-to-face interaction,cess (see Chaiken & Eagly, 1983, for a review). preferring to use other modalities for reasons ofAlthough there are many ways in which com- methodological control and ease. One goal ofmunication modes differ, one dimension may be the present research was to redress this disparityparticularly relevant to current thinking about by assessing the impact of persuasive appealsinterpersonal processes: the extent to which the delivered in the ecologically frequent butmedium makes prominent (or merely available) grossly understudied contexts of face-to-facevarious personal and social factors not related to and computer-mediated exchanges.the message itself (Chaiken & Trope, 1999). According to dual-processing models of per-Communication modalities that restrict the avail- suasion (Chaiken, 1980; Chaiken & Trope,ability of factors such as those mentioned above 1999; Petty & Cacioppo, 1984), circumstancesmay be referred to as socially constrained, that direct the attention of communication re-whereas those that provide access to such cues cipients toward or away from features of themay be termed socially unconstrained. message can have decidedly different persua- We argue that this dimension extends from sive consequences. Thus, socially constrainedwritten, entirely text-based modes (e.g., essays, and unconstrained communication modes maye-mail, newspaper articles) on the socially con- produce different persuasion patterns among in-strained side, to voice-based modes (e.g., radioor intercom transmissions), through visually dividuals focused differentially on message-re-based modes (e.g., televised or videotaped pre- lated or interpersonal aspects of the communi-sentations), and ﬁnally to face-to-face interac- cation setting.tions (e.g., workplace meetings, corridor con- For example, Chaiken and Eagly (1976) ex-versations) on the socially unconstrained pole. amined how mode of communication affected message processing as well as subsequent atti- tudes. In their study, participants received either Rosanna E. Guadagno and Robert B. Cialdini, Depart- a difﬁcult or an easy to comprehend persuasivement of Psychology, Arizona State University. message through one of three communication This research was supported by a National Science Foun- modalities: videotape, audiotape, or written.dation Graduate Fellowship. The easy message was more effective in the Correspondence concerning this article should be ad-dressed to Rosanna E. Guadagno, Department of Psychol- videotape condition, the socially unconstrainedogy, Arizona State University, Box 1104, Tempe, Arizona communication modality in which the speaker’s85257-1104. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org cues were most salient. Conversely, the difﬁcult 38
SPECIAL ISSUE: ONLINE PERSUASION 39message was more effective in the written com- implication of these results is that social con-munication condition, the socially constrained straint of the communication modality has anmode in which source cues were minimized. impact on the persuasive factors at work in aThis study provided clear evidence that differ- negotiation process (Morley & Stephenson,ent types of persuasive messages produce dif- 1977). With more social cues available, theferential degrees of attitude change as a function research participants were less swayed on theof communication medium. quality of their opponent’s position. Chaiken and Eagly (1983) conducted a fol- In sum, the results of the previously reviewedlow-up study in which they manipulated likabil- studies (Chaiken & Eagly, 1976, 1983; Morleyity of the communicator. As in the initial study, & Stephenson, 1977) suggest that the persua-participants received a persuasive message sive impact of different types of messages isthrough one of three communication modalities. moderated by the extent to which the commu-However, in this case, participants also read a nication modality makes salient message-rele-personal statement from the speaker that made vant versus non-message-relevant (e.g., social)him sound likable or unlikable. When the cues.speaker was likable, participants in both video-tape and audiotape conditions evidenced greater Computer-Mediated Communication:attitude change than participants in the written A New Communication Modecommunication condition. When the speakerwas not likable, attitude change was greatest for More recently, a newer communication mo-participants who received the written commu- dality has emerged— computer-mediated com-nication. These results suggest that in the vid- munication (CMC)—which stands to becomeeotape and audiotape conditions (the less so- increasingly important as a medium for com-cially constrained conditions), the personal cues munication. A recent survey reported that 71of the communicator were salient and partici- million people in the United States have accesspants engaged in heuristic processing of the to the Internet (Iconocast, 1999), and the num-persuasive message. Conversely, in the written bers are increasing. People use the Internet tocommunication condition, in which source cues send e-mail, participate in real-time interactivewere less salient, participants processed the group discussions, download software, partici-message systematically. pate in noninteractive discussion (e.g., Usenet), Similarly, Morley and Stephenson (1977) use a remote computer, conduct business trans-conducted a series of studies that investigated actions, and engage in real-time audio or videothe inﬂuence of formality of communication conversations (Jones, 1995).system on negotiation. These studies primarily To date, CMC has been highly socially con-investigated the persuasive factors involved in a strained, restricted for the most part to text-two-person negotiation that took place either based, impersonal forms. Therefore, we wouldover the phone or face-to-face. According to our expect that persuasive messages delivered interminology, because nonverbal feedback (e.g., this fashion would produce response patternseye contact, body language, facial expression) similar to those of other socially constrainedwas not available to participants in the phone communication modalities.condition, the phone condition was more so- And in fact, such patterns were found incially constrained than the face-to-face condi- the research of Kiesler, her colleagues, andtion. In each negotiation, one participant was others in studies of group decision makinggiven a strong case (i.e., a large number of (Dubrovsky, Kiesler, & Sethna, 1991; Hiltz,high-quality arguments) whereas the other was Johnson, & Turoff, 1986; Kiesler, Siegel, &given a weak case to argue. The overall results McGuire, 1984; Siegel, Dubrovsky, Kiesler, &of this series of studies indicted that, as pre- McGuire, 1986). These investigators found thatdicted, the strong case was more successful in compared with face-to-face participants inthe (more socially constrained) phone condition decision groups, individuals communicatingthan in the (less socially constrained) face-to- through a computer were more likely to violateface condition. Conversely, the weak case argu- social norms of politeness and to be focusedment was more successful in the face-to-face more uniformly on the task. Similarly, a studycondition than in the phone condition. A clear by Matheson and Zanna (1989) on face-to-face
40 GUADAGNO AND CIALDINIversus CMC persuasion revealed a direct link Overview of the Present Experimentsbetween social cues and attitude change only inthe face-to-face condition. Several studies have As more and more people gain access to theadditionally reported that participants interact- Internet, a greater amount of interpersonal com-ing via face-to-face like their discussion part- munication is taking place through this medium.ners more than those interacting via CMC Moreover, an increasing number of business(Kiesler, Zubrow, Moses, & Geller, 1985; decisions are being made primarily throughWeisband & Atwater, 1999). Additionally, text-based messaging, such as e-mail. The pur-these measures of partner liking were predictive pose of these experiments was to examine (a)of decisions in face-to-face interaction but not the ways in which this relatively new and veryin CMC. As with the previously reviewed stud- socially constrained communication modalityies on communication modality, it appears that inﬂuences the process of a persuasive appealindividuals who communicate through this so- and (b) the impact that this modality has oncially constrained mode are less focused on male versus female message recipients, whotheir partners and more focused on the assigned tend to focus differentially on the interpersonaltask. aspects of an exchange. Gender Differences in Persuasion Study 1 Social roles, especially gender-based roles, The purpose of our ﬁrst study was to examineare another factor that can inﬂuence responses the way a communicator could persuade a dis-to persuasion attempts. In a meta-analysis of cussion partner to favorably evaluate a counter-148 studies, Eagly and Carli (1981) found a attitudinal message, depending on strength oftendency for women to be more persuadable argument, communication modality, and genderthan men, but this effect was moderated by the of the target of persuasion. In our design, aextent to which social factors, such as group confederate attempted to induce agreement in apressures and publicness of response, were same-gender research participant on the meritspresent. Eagly (1987) and others (Tannen, of instituting comprehensive exams as a new1990; Wood & Stagner, 1994) attribute these graduation requirement. The confederate wasﬁndings to different social role expectations for interviewed by each research participant usingmen and women. Men are said to be oriented one of two communication modality conditions:toward agency, which often manifests in at- e-mail or face-to-face. During the course of thetempts to demonstrate one’s independence from interview, the confederate used either a strongothers in successful performances. Women, on or a weak set of arguments in favor of thethe other hand, are said to be more communally proposal in an attempt to persuade the researchoriented, which often manifests in activities de- participant.signed to foster interpersonal cooperation and A novel aspect of this paradigm was the userelationship formation and maintenance. of a confederate to administer the persuasive According to linguist Deborah Tannen (1990), arguments in an interactive exchange rathermen’s communication style in interpersonal in- than having research participants read a writtenteraction is based on the perception that in message on a computer screen or watch a vid-interactions, a man must strive to achieve in- eotaped message. This allowed us to investigatedependence and avoid failure. Women, on the the impact of persuasive messages in a bilateralother hand, have a slightly different percep- exchange context rather than in a unilateraltion of their world. This perspective is one in persuasion agent-to-persuasion target context,which conversations are meant to achieve close- which is typical of persuasion research butness and consensus. Thus, according to Tan- might not be representative of the way persua-nen’s view, when interacting with others, men sion is accomplished in many nonexperimentalare interested in establishing independence settings.through assertiveness or mastery of their envi- Given that men and women differ in theirronment, whereas women are interested in mak- motivational goals, we expected that women ining connections with other individuals through the face-to-face condition would express morecooperation. agreement with the confederate than would
SPECIAL ISSUE: ONLINE PERSUASION 41women in the e-mail condition because the so- Procedurecial constraint of e-mail does not easily allowfor the establishment of a connection or bond. On arrival, research participants were in-For men, however, we expected communication formed that they were to take part in a two-mode not to make as much of a difference in person interview– discussion and opinion sur-evaluation of the persuasive message because vey on behalf of the university administration.men are more likely to enter interactions with a They were told that they would be paired with adesire for independence rather than cooperation partner (the confederate) with whom they wouldor bonding. Because communicator characteris- discuss the merits of instituting senior compre-tics matter more for women and are more salient hensive exams as an additional graduation re-in face-to-face interactions, we also predicted quirement and that this discussion would bethat personality trait ratings of the confederate structured like an interview. One partner waswould be related to attitude toward the compre- assigned the task of “interviewing” the otherhensive exams only among women in the face- partner (always the confederate). At this point,to-face condition. participants were given an informational para- We also predicted that across communication graph describing the comprehensive exam pro-mode and gender, strong arguments would elicit posal and the goal of the interview discussion.more message agreement than weak arguments. Next, participants were given a personalFinally, because e-mail is a highly socially con- statement handwritten by the confederate. Allstrained communication mode, we expected that participants read the same statement from theparticipants in this condition would generate confederate, which included information suchmore message-oriented cognitive responses to as his or her year in school, favorite food, andthe persuasive interaction. Conversely, because hobbies and an indistinct description of his orface-to-face interaction is a socially uncon- her personality. This information was providedstrained communication mode, we expected to create a uniform initial impression of theparticipants to be more focused on the commu- confederate.nicator and therefore to record more communi- Prior to engaging in the interview– discus-cator-focused thoughts than participants in the sion, participants in the e-mail condition re-email conditions. ceived training on how to use the computer Method 1 An additional set of participants were run but excluded from the analyses: 12 expressed suspicion, 5 did not under-Participants stand the task, and 4 failed the relevance manipulation check. Analyses of the primary dependent measures with Research participants were 159 (80 fe- these participants included in the data set did not yield different results than reported.male, 79 male) undergraduate psychology stu- 2 Personal relevance (high vs. low) was also manipulated,dents.1 Only those with computer experience but it did not yield any signiﬁcant effects on the primarywere eligible for this study. dependent measures. Thus, this variable is not discussed further. However, relevance was still included in all the analyses reported here for appropriate partitioning of the variance.Design 3 Pretesting of the introductory psychology subject pool indicated the mean favorability rating of this issue was 3.14 The experimental design was a 2 (communi- on a scale ranging from 1 (extremely unfavor) to 9 (ex-cation mode: face-to-face vs. e-mail) 2 (ar- tremely favor). 4gument strength: strong vs. weak) 2 (gender The arguments used in this study were adapted from Petty, Harkins, and Williams (1980). Examples of theof dyad: male vs. female) factorial.2 From evi- strong arguments emitted by the confederate are as follows:dence that most undergraduates would not sup- “The quality of teaching is better at schools with exams”port the institution of senior comprehensive ex- and “Average starting salaries are higher for graduates forams,3 the confederate was instructed to present schools with exams.” Examples of the weak arguments are as follows: “Companies that develop these exams wouldn’teither a set of strong or weak arguments (adapted market to schools unless they worked” and “Graduate stu-from Petty, Harkins, & Williams, 1980)4 in an dents have to take comprehensive exams and if undergradsattempt to change the participant’s attitude. don’t have to, that’s discrimination.”
42 GUADAGNO AND CIALDINIprogram.5 All participants were given a list of Participants in the strong argument conditionquestions to ask their discussion partner. Once rated the comprehensive exam more favorablyparticipants were prepared, they were intro- (M 5.56) than participants in the weak argu-duced to the confederate and the interview– ment condition (M 4.76).discussion began. As depicted in Table 1, there was also a For each question, the confederate was pre- signiﬁcant communication mode by gender in-pared to emit a scripted response that contained teraction, F(1, 143) 6.58, p .01, 2 .044.an assigned (strong or weak) argument. The A test of simple effects indicated that this in-confederate was instructed that during the inter- teraction was due to the fact that women in theview– discussion he or she should discuss only face-to-face condition (M 5.54) were morethe comprehensive exam proposal and provide favorable toward comprehensive exams thanonly statements based on the assigned set of women in the e-mail condition (M 4.68),arguments. However, the confederate was told F(1, 156) 3.87, p .05, whereas menthat if the participant went off-task, he or she showed a nonsigniﬁcant trend, F(1, 156)should try to reveal only information consistent 2.47, p .12, in the opposite direction.with the information on the personal statementor to state additional opinions on the compre-hensive exams that were consistent with the Partner Ratingsarguments and overall cover story. At the end ofthe interview– discussion, each participant com- A principal-axis factor analysis with obliquepleted the dependent measures. Next, a suspi- rotation was conducted on the partner trait rat-cion check was conducted, and the participant ings. This analysis indicated that the 13 traits onwas debriefed and excused. which the confederate was rated could be re- duced to form three distinct factors. Factor 1, labeled “Congenial,” accounted for 49% of theDependent Variables variance and contained the following traits: The main measure was participants’ attitude approachable, conﬁdent, likable, interesting,toward the comprehensive exam proposal, mea- friendly, sincere, and warm. Factor 2, labeledsured using a scale ranging from 1 (extremely “Knowledgeable,” accounted for 7% of theun ) to 9 (extremely ) on the following variance and contained the following traits:dimensions: workable, valuable, needed, and competent, informed, and credible. Finally,favorable. Factor 3, labeled “Sincerity,” accounted for 6% Next, participants’ cognitive responses to the of the variance and contained the followinginterview– discussion were measured using a traits: modest, honest, and trustworthy. The fac-thought-listing exercise. Finally, a series of ad- tor loadings for Congenial ranged from .573 toditional measures assessed participants’ impres- .879; for Knowledgeable, from .737 to .804; andsion of the confederate on a scale ranging for Sincerity, from .323 to .851.from 1 (not at all ) to 9 (very ) on A 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail) 2 (strong vs.the 13 different dimensions. weak argument) 2 (male vs. female dyad) ANOVA on the Knowledgeable composite re- vealed a signiﬁcant main effect for argument Results strength, F(1, 143) 20.82, p .01, 2 .127, indicating that participants perceived theAttitude Measure confederates emitting the strong arguments as Participants’ ratings of the comprehensive more knowledgeable (M 7.35) than confed-exam proposal on the attitude measures were erates emitting the weak arguments (M 6.34).averaged to form one composite of overall atti- Similar ANOVAs on the Congenial and Sincer-tude toward the exam proposal ( .92). A 2 ity composites revealed no signiﬁcant differ-(face-to-face vs. e-mail) 2 (strong vs. weak ences by condition.argument) 2 (male vs. female dyad) analysisof variance (ANOVA) revealed two signiﬁcant 5 Both the participant’s and the confederate’s names ap-effects. The ﬁrst was a main effect for argument peared on the screen, creating a nonanonymous CMCstrength, F(1, 143) 6.64, p .01, 2 .044. environment.
SPECIAL ISSUE: ONLINE PERSUASION 43Table 1 cator thoughts (M 2.02) than participantsMean Attitude Toward the Comprehensive Exam in the e-mail condition (M 1.44),(and Standard Deviations) F(1, 143) 4.83, p .03, 2 .033. This Communication mode analysis revealed an additional signiﬁcant main Dyad and effect for argument strength, indicating that par- attitude Face-to-face E-mail ticipants in the weak argument condition Study 1 (M 2.01) recorded more communicatorFemale 5.54 (1.85) 4.68 (2.10) thoughts than participants in the strong argu-Male 4.86 (1.99) 4.68 (1.99) ment condition (M 1.45), F(1, 143) 4.38, Study 2 p .04, 2 .03. Message thoughts. Message thoughts referFemale to any comments about the comprehensive ex- Competitive 5.33 (1.90) 5.27 (2.10) ams and the arguments emitted by the confed- Independent 5.52 (2.06) 4.25 (2.08) Cooperative 5.21 (0.99) 5.09 (1.64) erate. A 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail) 2 (strongMale vs. weak argument) 2 (male vs. female dyad) Competitive 4.08 (1.95) 5.57 (1.85) ANOVA on the total number of message Independent 6.12 (1.47) 5.89 (1.78) thoughts recorded by participants did not reveal Cooperative 5.57 (1.42) 5.50 (1.26) any signiﬁcant effects. However, an examina- tion of the negative message thoughts revealed a signiﬁcant main effect for communication mode. Participants in the e-mail condition re- Correlation coefﬁcients between the partner corded relatively more negative messageevaluation composites and the attitude measure thoughts (M 1.12) than participants inindicated that partner trait ratings were signiﬁ- the face-to-face condition (M 0.83),cantly related to attitude in only one condition. F(1, 143) 3.98, p .05, 2 .027.For women in the face-to-face condition, atti-tude was signiﬁcantly positively correlated with Unscripted Commentsall three factors (for Congenial, r .406, p.01; for Knowledgeable, r .448, p .01; and The interview– discussion transcripts werefor Sincerity, r .317, p .05). For women in content coded.7 The total number of unscriptedthe e-mail condition and for men in both com- comments emitted by participants in each ses-munication modalities, there were no signiﬁcant sion was counted. A 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail)correlations between partner trait ratings and 2 (strong vs. weak argument) 2 (male vs.attitude. female dyad) ANOVA on the total number of unscripted comments revealed a signiﬁcantCognitive Responses main effect for communication mode, indicat- ing that participants in the face-to-face condi- Two independent judges who were blind to tion were more likely to deviate from theexperimental condition rated participants’ cog- scripted questions (M 6.91) than were partic-nitive responses as recorded on the thought list- ipants in the e-mail condition (M 1.38),ing measure for valence (positive, negative, or F(1, 132) 35.74, p .01, 2 .213. Thisneutral) as well as focus (communicator, mes- analysis also revealed a main effect for gender,sage, or irrelevant). The judges’ ratings were indicating that men were more likely to deviateaveraged to form a more reliable measure.6 from the scripted questions (M 5.49) than Communicator thoughts. Communicatorthoughts refer to any comments about the con- 6 The interrater reliabilities for each type of cognitivefederate that were recorded by participants on response were as follows: for total, r .88; communicator,the thought-listing measure. A 2 (face-to-face r .99; positive communicator, r .87; negative commu-vs. e-mail) 2 (strong vs. weak argument) 2 nicator, r .48; message, r .73; positive message, r(male vs. female dyad) ANOVA on the total .78; negative message, r .73; irrelevant, r .67. Note that the lower correlation coefﬁcients occurred in cells in whichnumber of communicator thoughts recorded by there was a restricted range of responses.participants indicated that participants in the 7 Eleven transcripts (10 face-to-face, 1 e-mail) were lostface-to-face condition recorded more communi- through a recording error.
44 GUADAGNO AND CIALDINIwomen (M 2.55), F(1, 132) 10.38, p .01, Perhaps the most intriguing ﬁnding in this 2 .073. These two main effects were quali- study is that men and women differed in mes-ﬁed by a signiﬁcant two-way communication sage-favorable attitudes depending on whichmode by gender interaction, F(1, 132) 3.92, communication mode they used to interactp .05, 2 .029. A test of the simple effects with the same-gender confederate. Speciﬁcally,indicated that for participants in the face-to-face women in the face-to-face condition reportedcondition, men were more likely to make un- more agreement than did women in the e-mailscripted comments (M 9.29) than were condition. However, there was no signiﬁcantwomen (M 4.54), F(1, 145) 9.29, p .01. difference between men in the e-mail and menHowever, in the e-mail condition, there was no in the face-to-face condition. These ﬁndings dosigniﬁcant gender difference in number of un- not appear to be due to a tendency for women toscripted comments. be more persuadable than men, as the women never exhibited signiﬁcantly higher levels of agreement than men in comparable conditions. Discussion We believe that participants responded in a This study provides new information on the manner consistent with gender-stereotypical ex-impact of strength of argument, participant gen- pectations. For men, there was no difference inder, and communication mode on interpersonal agreement with the message between e-mail andinﬂuence. Our results suggest that the most ef- face-to-face perhaps because the differences infective way to persuade an individual differs social constraint between the two conditionsaccording to the strength of the argument as were relatively unimportant to the men, whosewell as his or her gender and the mode of social roles focus more on independence andcommunication. agency than on relationships. We believe that A number of conclusions can be drawn. First, women, on the other hand, whose roles focusedin this study, as in previous research (see Petty them more on relationship formation and coop-& Cacioppo, 1986), the strength of the argu- eration, aligned their attitudes more with thement had a signiﬁcant impact on agreement persuader’s position in the face-to-face condi-with the message, indicating that strong argu- tion because it was in that condition that theirmentation is more persuasive than weak argu- relationship goals were salient and attainable.mentation. Additionally, participants were more This interpretation receives support from thefocused on the communicator in the weak argu- strong positive correlations between attitude to-ment condition as compared with the strong ward the exams and persuader personality traitargument condition, as indicated by the ﬁnding ratings that occurred only for women in thethat participants in the weak argument condition face-to-face condition.8recorded more communicator thoughts than did An alternative explanation of these results isparticipants in the strong argument condition. that male and female confederates differed in As predicted, participants in the face-to- their persuasiveness and that these differencesface condition recorded more communicator led participants to evaluate the arguments dif-thoughts than did participants in the e-mail con- ferently. To explore this possibility, a pair ofdition, suggesting that source cues were more raters coded the e-mail transcripts for persua-salient in the face-to-face condition than in the siveness. All references to participant gendere-mail condition. In addition, more negative were removed. An analysis of these data re-message thoughts were generated in the e-mail vealed no signiﬁcant gender differences. How-condition as compared with the face-to-face ever, a main effect for argument strength wascondition, suggesting a greater message focus in revealed, as in the attitude measure, F(1, 74)the e-mail condition as compared with the face- 153.60, p .01, 2 1.0.to-face condition. The fact that the communica-tion mode difference occurred only for negative 8message thoughts suggests that e-mail partici- The previous research that reported greater liking in face-to-face interactions as compared with e-mail did notpants may have responded to the message with include a detailed breakdown of the means by gender com-counter argumentation that was suppressed for position of the dyad, so it is difﬁcult to compare thesethose in face-to-face interactions. results with the previous ﬁndings.
SPECIAL ISSUE: ONLINE PERSUASION 45 Finally, although the interview– discussion interaction. In addition, we gave some partici-transcripts were coded only for the quantity of pants a competitive experience with the com-unscripted comments, in informal observations municator before the persuasion attempt, andduring this coding we noted that when the men we gave other participants a cooperative expe-in face-to-face conditions went off script, they rience with the communicator before the per-seemed to be attempting to establish domi- suasion attempt.nance, whereas women who went off script According to a social roles perspective, onetended to do more bonding. This observation is would expect a prior competitive interaction tosimilar to an analysis of gender differences in have the most negative effect on the men andthe content of Internet newsgroup postings con- that this would be the case primarily in theducted by Herring (1993) and greatly inﬂuenced face-to-face communication mode, where socialthe design of Study 2. and personal cues are prominent. By this same account, however, one would expect the most Study 2 negative effect on the women’s levels of mes- sage agreement to occur when there had been We conducted a second study to (a) replicate the least amount of prior interaction and thatthe gender by communication mode interaction this would be the case primarily in the e-mailof Study 1 (so as to increase conﬁdence in its condition, where social and personal cues arereliability) and (b) modify the pattern through most prominent.additional manipulations designed to shed lighton the conceptual mediation on this basic effect. MethodThat is, if it is the case that men are more likelyto see their interactions with others in term of Participantscompetition whereas women are more likely tosee such interactions in terms of cooperation Research participants were 237 (139 fe-(Eagly, 1987; Tannen, 1990), we wondered male, 98 male) undergraduate psychology stu-whether it would be possible to inﬂuence male dents selected in the same way as in Study 1.9and female responses to a communicator byvarying the nature of their prior (competitive or Designcooperative) interaction. In the socially uncon-strained environment of face-to-face communi- The experimental design was a 2 (communi-cation, men who have had a prior competitive cation mode: face-to-face vs. e-mail) 2 (gen-interaction with the communicator should re- der: male vs. female dyad) 3 (prior interac-spond competitively by rejecting the communi- tion: competitive vs. cooperative vs. indepen-cator’s argument. This should not be the case dent) factorial. The confederate was instructedfor women, however, for whom prior interac- to present the set of strong arguments used intion may serve to establish a relationship in Study 1.which cooperation and harmony are sought.Thus, for women, it might be the case that Procedurevarious forms of prior interaction would set thestage for future agreement with the other Participants were told that they would partic-by way of relationship-building attempts. For ipate in two separate studies, one examining thewomen, then, it would not be a competitive way individuals put together numbers and oneprior interaction that would lead to rejection of providing feedback on proposed changes to ac-a communicator’s argument but rather a lack of ademic policy.meaningful prior interaction. As in the previous study, the participant and To examine these possibilities, we used the the confederate arrived at the same place andface-to-face and e-mail procedures of Study 1 to time. This time, however, the experimenterreplicate the basic ﬁnding of that study (thatwomen showed less message agreement in e- 9 An additional 20 participants were excluded from themail versus face-to-face modes, whereas men’s data analyses because they expressed suspicion. Analyses oflevels of agreement did not differ) when we the primary dependent measures with these participantsprovided participants with no meaningful prior included did not yield different results.
46 GUADAGNO AND CIALDINIbrought both participant and confederate to the participants to attend to the task at the samesame lab room at the same time. level as participants in the other conditions. The experimenter then proceeded to present All participants were given a sheet to trackinstructions for the ﬁrst study, a number game their performance. Participants were told thatthat was designed to manipulate prior interac- this tracking sheet would be used to computetion. There were three versions of the game: one their performance scores. Finally, the experi-designed to induce competition, one designed menter set a timer for 5 min and left the con-to induce cooperation, and one that provided federate and participant alone in the room toequivalent interpersonal exposure without any play the game.explicit cooperative or competitive interaction. Once the timer rang, the experimenter reen- All participants were presented with the same tered the room and transitioned to the discussionintroductory statement and were told that they of the comprehensive exam. The experimenterwould take turns building their own puzzle us- explained that the participant and confederateing three-sided dominos. The instructions then would discuss a potential change to academicdeviated depending on condition. policy. The participant was asked to pick out of Participants in the competitive prior interac- an envelope one of four possible topics. Thetion condition were told that the purpose of this confederate was asked to pick out of an enve-study was to compare the performance of intro- lope one of two possible roles: the interviewerductory psychology students with that of edu- (the one who asks the questions) or the respon-cation students (such as the confederate).10 dent (the one who answers the questions). InThey were each instructed to take turns playing reality, each envelope contained multiple copiesa piece, then take a piece from the other’s pile of the same choice: comprehensive exam for theof pieces. Confederates were instructed to try to topic of discussion and respondent as the roletake pieces that the participants were likely to for the confederate. After these assignments were made, the experimenter moved the partic-use. Finally, participants in this condition were ipant to a room with a computer and the rest oftold that the person who performed the best the experiment replicated the procedure fromwould receive a $25 prize. The prize was of- Study 1.fered to strengthen the competitive environmentand to motivate participants to attend to thetask. Dependent Variables Participants in the cooperative prior interac- Attitude toward the comprehensive exam,tion condition were told that the purpose of this cognitive responses, and partner trait ratingsstudy was to examine the performance of intro- were assessed using the same measures as inductory psychology students partnered with ed- Study 1.ucation students. They were each instructed to As manipulation checks for the nature of thetake turns playing a piece and then offer a piece prior interaction (game check), participantsto their partner. Confederates were instructed to were asked three questions. First, they weretry to offer pieces to the participants that they asked to rate the nature of the number-matchingcould use. Finally, participants in this condition game on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1were told that the pair who performed the best (cooperative) to 9 (competitive) with 5 (neitherwould receive a joint $25 prize. In this case, the competitive or cooperative) as the scale mid-prize was offered to strengthen the cooperative point. Next, participants assessed their partner’senvironment and to motivate participants to at- competitiveness and cooperativeness using atend to the task. Likert-type scale ranging from 1 not at Participants in the independent prior interac- all to 9 very .tion condition received only the introductory To assess computer experience, we askedstatement and were then instructed to take turns participants to indicate the number of hoursplaying without exchanging any pieces. Theywere also told that the best performing intro- 10 The confederate was also introduced as an educationductory psychology participant would win a student in Study 1. This was done to reduce suspicion due$25 prize, as would the best performing educa- to the fact that two participants arrived for an experiment fortion student. The prize was offered to motivate which only one was scheduled.
SPECIAL ISSUE: ONLINE PERSUASION 47spent using a computer and the Internet for cooperative condition, F(1, 225) 52.01, pmultiple purposes. .01, 2 .316. This analysis also indicated that men viewed the game as more competitive thanPredictions did women (M 5.32 vs. M 4.93), F(1, 225) 10.84, p .01, 2 .046. We predicted that the communication mode Competitive trait rating. A 2 (face-to-faceby participant gender interaction reported in vs. e-mail) 2 (male vs. female dyad) 3Study 1 would be replicated in the independent (competitive vs. cooperative vs. independentprior interaction conditions in this study. Spe- prior interaction) ANOVA revealed a signiﬁ-ciﬁcally, we expected the women in the inde- cant main effect for prior interaction condition,pendent prior interaction, e-mail condition to indicating that participants perceived their part-show less message agreement than women in ners in the competitive (M 5.47) and inde-the face-to-face conditions. In addition, we ex- pendent (M 5.52) prior interaction conditionspected to ﬁnd no communication mode differ- as more competitive than those in the coopera-ence between men across conditions. tive prior interaction condition (M 4.78), The general social role prediction for men F(1, 225) 4.80, p .01, 2 .041. In addi-was that there would be no communication tion, this analysis revealed a signiﬁcant mainmode or prior interaction difference in agree- effect for participant gender, indicating thatment toward the message except in the face-to- men perceived their partners as more competi-face, competitive prior interaction condition. In tive than did women (M 5.32 vs. M 4.93),this condition, we expected less message agree- F(1, 225) 11.55, p .01, 2 .049.ment than in the other male conditions, resulting Cooperative trait rating. A 2 (face-to-facein a 1 versus 5 pattern of results. vs. e-mail) 2 (male vs. female dyad) 3 For women, the general social role prediction (competitive vs. cooperative vs. independentwas for a different 1 versus 5 pattern of results. prior interaction) ANOVA revealed a signiﬁ-Because motivation for cooperation and bond- cant main effect for participant gender, indicat-ing should override the competitive nature of ing that across all conditions, female confeder-the prior interaction, we expected women to ates were rated as more cooperative than malereport more message agreement in all condi- confederates (M 8.33 vs. M 7.82),tions in which some type of interaction oc- F(1, 225) 9.41, p .01, 2 .04. Thus,curred. Thus, we predicted a 1 versus 5 pattern analyses of these three manipulation checks in-of results, with women in the e-mail, indepen- dicated that the situation and the confederatedent prior interaction condition showing less were perceived accurately in each condition. Inmessage agreement as compared with all other addition, men perceived the confederate andconditions. situation as more competitive than did women. Finally, we did not expect to ﬁnd any genderdifferences in computer experience among ourparticipants. Attitude Measure The reliability of the attitude composite was Results .91.11 The 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail) 2 (male vs. female dyad) 3 (competitive vs.Manipulation Checks cooperative vs. independent prior interaction) ANOVA yielded a signiﬁcant two-way interac- Game check. A 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail) tion between communication mode and prior 2 (male vs. female dyad) 3 (competitive interaction, F(1, 225) 3.54, p .03, 2vs. cooperative vs. independent prior interac-tion) ANOVA revealed a signiﬁcant main effectfor prior interaction condition, indicating that 11 Prior attitudes toward the comprehensive exam pro-participants perceived the competitive game posal were available for 181 participants (76% of the sam-condition (M 6.16) as more competitive than ple). An analysis of covariance on the attitude measure using the pretest attitude as the covariate revealed the samethe independent (M 5.52) and the cooperative pattern of results as without the covariate. Consequently,(M 3.00) conditions and that the independent data on the full sample without the covariance analysis arecondition was seen as more competitive than the reported hereafter.
48 GUADAGNO AND CIALDINI.031; a signiﬁcant two-way interaction between prior interaction was cooperative or competi-prior interaction and gender, F(1, 225) 4.14, tive, F(1, 225) 0.032 and F(1, 225) 0.019,p .02, 2 .036; and a marginal two-way respectively. The hypothesized 1 versus 5 con-communication mode by gender interaction, trast between the independent, face-to-face con-F(1, 225) 3.05, p .08, 2 .013. See Table 1 dition and all other female conditions was sig-for a breakdown of means by condition. niﬁcant, F(1, 225) 6.94, p .01. Thus, for In addition, we conducted a more focused set women, the absence of any type of prior inter-of analyses relative to our speciﬁc predictions. action minimized their willingness to agree withOur ﬁrst major prediction was that the commu- their discussion partner. See Table 1 for a pre-nication mode by gender interaction of Study 1 sentation of the means for this measure.would be replicated in the independent interac-tion condition of Study 2. An analysis of the Partner Ratingsindependent prior interaction cells revealed anearly signiﬁcant interaction of communication The partner trait ratings were analyzed usingmode and participant gender, F(1, 235) 3.57, a conﬁrmatory factor analysis to test whetherp .06. Simple effects tests indicated that, as in the factors established by the exploratory factorStudy 1, women in the e-mail condition re- analysis in Study 1 generalized to this sample.ported less agreement than women in the face- The model ﬁt reasonably well, CFI .928, 2to-face condition (M 4.25 vs. M 5.52), (1, N 62) 161.34, p .01.F(1, 234) 6.49, p .01. For the men in the Congenial. A 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail)independent condition, the difference between 2 (male vs. female dyad) 3 (competitivee-mail and face-to-face was not signiﬁcant, vs. cooperative vs. independent prior interac-F(1, 234) 0.01, ns. Thus, the results of tion) ANOVA revealed a signiﬁcant main effectStudy 1 were replicated. for gender, indicating that women rated the con- The second major prediction was that mes- federate as more congenial than did men (Msage agreement would not differ among men 7.03 vs. M 6.30), F(1, 225) 21.57, pexcept for those in the competitive prior inter- .01, 2 .087.action, face-to-face condition, which should In addition, women in the independent, e-show the least agreement. A 1 versus 5 contrast mail condition rated their discussion partner astesting this hypothesis proved signiﬁcant, less likable than did women in any other con-F(1, 225) 11.65, p .01. An additional ex- dition, F(1, 225) 10.53, p .01. Thus, theamination of the attitude measure for men same 1 versus 5 pattern that appeared in theacross condition revealed that in addition to the attitude measure also appeared in ratings ofabove results, there was no communication partner congeniality. For men, there were nomode difference between men within the coop- differences in partner ratings by condition.erative condition, F(1, 225) 0.008, ns, or in Knowledgeable. A 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail)the independent condition, F(1, 225) 0.17, 2 (male vs. female dyad) 3 (competitivens. For men in the competitive condition, how- vs. cooperative vs. independent prior interac-ever, there was less agreement in the face-to- tion) ANOVA revealed a signiﬁcant main effectface condition as compared with men in the for gender, indicating that women rated the con-e-mail condition (M 4.08 vs. M 5.57), federate as more knowledgeable than did menF(1, 225) 5.91, p .02. Thus, for men, the (M 7.50 vs. M 6.95), F(1, 225) 6.27,type of interaction did not have an impact on p .01, 2 .027.agreement unless they were initially forced to Sincerity. A 2 (face-to-face vs. e-mail) 2compete, then later placed in a face-to-face in- (male vs. female dyad) 3 (competitive vs.teraction where their prior competitor espoused cooperative vs. independent prior interaction)his views. ANOVA revealed a signiﬁcant main effect for For women, a different picture emerged in gender, indicating that women rated the confed-keeping with the third major prediction. The erate as more sincere than did men (M 7.50least agreement occurred among those in the vs. M 6.95), F(1, 225) 16.21, p .01, 2independent prior interaction condition. The .067.difference in attitude toward the exams between In addition, women in the independent, e-e-mail and face-to-face was not signiﬁcant if the mail condition rated their discussion partner as
SPECIAL ISSUE: ONLINE PERSUASION 49less sincere than did women in any other con- stead this difference looks to be associated withdition, F(1, 225) 7.03, p .01. Thus, the gender differences in interaction style: womensame 1 versus 5 pattern that appeared in the are motivated to form bonds, whereas men areattitude measure also appeared in ratings of motivated to compete if necessary to achievepartner sincerity. For men, there were no differ- independence. The ﬁnding that women reportedences in partner ratings by condition. the same level of message agreement in all Finally, an examination of the correlations conditions involving prior interaction with thebetween attitude toward the comprehensive ex- confederate, even when this prior interactionams and communicator trait ratings did not re- was competitive in nature, bolsters this interpre-veal any signiﬁcant differences by condition, tation. This interpretation is additionally sup-contrary to the results reported in Study 1. ported by the predicted 1 versus 5 pattern wherein women in the e-mail, independent con-Cognitive Responses dition reported lower ratings on attitude toward An analysis of the message and communica- the comprehensive exam, partner congeniality,tor thoughts did not reveal the communication partner sincerity, and positive thoughts aboutmode differences found in Study 1—that face- the partner as compared with women in theto-face interaction produced more communica- other conditions. It is not surprising that womentor thoughts than did CMC interaction, F(1, chose to bond rather than compete, in that225) 0.14, ns. This suggests that the prior women feel more comfortable cooperating, eveninteraction eliminated the differences in mes- in a competitive environment (Anderson &sage processing typically found in the persua- Morrow, 1995). Additionally, women will choosesion literature. to bond with other women, especially in times An examination on the positive communica- of stress (Taylor et al., 2000). Finally, previoustor thoughts showed that women in the inde- research on gender-stereotypical behavior indi-pendent, e-mail condition recorded fewer posi- cates that women will reject imposed roles iftive thoughts about their discussion partner they do not agree with them (Cialdini, Wosin-than did women in any other condition, ska, Dabul, Whetstone-Dion, & Heszen, 1998).F(1, 225) 6.94, p .01. Thus, the same 1 Men, on the other hand, did not appear to beversus 5 pattern that appeared in the attitude focused on establishing a cooperative bond withmeasure also appeared in ratings of positive the confederate. Instead, they evaluated the ar-thoughts about their partner. For men, there guments for what they were and showed nowere no differences in positive communicator differences in attitude toward the exams unlessthoughts by condition. they had competed previously, and then took part in the face-to-face discussion with the priorComputer Experience rival. Although men showed no universal ten- dency for competition, it appears that they can The items on the computer experience mea- be pushed to compete and that the competitive,sure were summed to form one composite ( face-to-face condition spurred them to do so,.68). An ANOVA on this measure revealed no decreasing their willingness to align their atti-signiﬁcant effects for gender, communication tudes with their competitor.mode, or prior interaction. Thus, it appears thatthe gender differences in persuasion cannot beexplained by gender differences in computer use. General Discussion Discussion Taken together, these two studies shed light on the impact of interactive CMC on interper- The results of this study replicated the ﬁnding sonal inﬂuence. For women, having any priorin Study 1 that without a prior meaningful in- interaction with a communicator enhances theteraction, women taking part in a persuasive level of agreement relative to that occurring inexchange via e-mail agreed with a communica- impersonal e-mail interactions. For men, onlytor less than women taking part in the same an intensely competitive environment led to lessexchange in a face-to-face setting. In addition, agreement.we demonstrated that this result was not due to However, certain unanswered questions re-gender differences in computer experience. In- main and deserve further investigation. First, it
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