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'IM Me': Instant Messaging as Relational Maintenance and Everyday Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Instant Messaging, Page 14 communication quality and more change-producing than did males. Interactions conducted with female partners were rated as higher in communication quality. Consistent differences also emerged as a function of the type of relationship between partners across the four characteristics. For instance, interactions with best friends were rated highest in communication quality and mutual control, whereas those with lovers were the most change-producing. Interactions with acquaintances were perceived as least valuable. At issue in the present study is the extent to which these characteristics differ as a function of the medium used to conduct routine interactions. If, as noted above, IM and FtF are functionally equivalent means of sustaining social connections, no significant differences should emerge with respect to the four characteristics. To date, no study has examined this expectation. RQ4: How do interactions conducted via IM compare to those conducted FtF in terms of everyday communication? Additionally, per Duck et al. (1991), the extent to which individual- and relationship-level characteristics identified in research questions 1 through 3 affect the nature of everyday IM interactions warrants examination. Therefore, the following research questions are also proposed: RQ5: How do individual-level characteristics affect everyday communication conducted via IM? RQ6: How do relational-level characteristics affect everyday communication conducted via IM? Method Participants and Procedures Participants who identified themselves as regular users of IM programs (defined as “actively using an IM program at least once during any average 7-day period”) were recruited from introductory and advanced level communication classes at a mid-sized Midwestern university and received extra credit in exchange for their participation. Participants were instructed that the

Authors: Ramirez, Artemio. and Broneck, Kathy.
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Instant Messaging, Page 14
communication quality and more change-producing than did males. Interactions conducted with
female partners were rated as higher in communication quality. Consistent differences also
emerged as a function of the type of relationship between partners across the four characteristics.
For instance, interactions with best friends were rated highest in communication quality and
mutual control, whereas those with lovers were the most change-producing. Interactions with
acquaintances were perceived as least valuable.
At issue in the present study is the extent to which these characteristics differ as a function of
the medium used to conduct routine interactions. If, as noted above, IM and FtF are functionally
equivalent means of sustaining social connections, no significant differences should emerge with
respect to the four characteristics. To date, no study has examined this expectation.
RQ4: How do interactions conducted via IM compare to those conducted FtF in terms of
everyday communication?
Additionally, per Duck et al. (1991), the extent to which individual- and relationship-level
characteristics identified in research questions 1 through 3 affect the nature of everyday IM
interactions warrants examination. Therefore, the following research questions are also proposed:
RQ5: How do individual-level characteristics affect everyday communication conducted via IM?
RQ6: How do relational-level characteristics affect everyday communication conducted via IM?
Method
Participants and Procedures
Participants who identified themselves as regular users of IM programs (defined as “actively
using an IM program at least once during any average 7-day period”) were recruited from
introductory and advanced level communication classes at a mid-sized Midwestern university
and received extra credit in exchange for their participation. Participants were instructed that the


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