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Uncertainty Reduction Over Time in Initial Stranger Interactions: A Social Information Processing Theory Approach

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Abstract:

Social Information Processing Theory (Walther, 1992) suggests that people can overcome limitations of communication channels to accomplish their communication goals. One common communication goal that has been examined from this perspective is uncertainty reduction (Tidwell & Walther, 2002; Westerman & Tamborini, 2006). However, past research in this area has focused on cross-sectional studies. The current study examines the uncertainty reduction process over time in initial stranger interactions. Drawing on SIPT, the current study examines both uncertainty levels and the use of interactive uncertainty reduction strategies in ongoing face-to-face (FtF) and computer-mediated (CMC) interactions.
In order to address these questions, 60 strangers interacted in male-female dyads for fifteen minutes in one of two modes: face-to-face or using instant messenger. After they interacted, each person was asked to report their uncertainty levels toward their partner for each minute of the interaction retroactively. The interactions were also coded for the number of interactive uncertainty reduction strategies used in each minute. The data showed that although uncertainty started higher in CMC than FtF as expected, it followed similar patterns of reduction over time in both conditions, which was not expected. IURS use followed hypothesized patterns in both CMC and FtF, however. These findings are then discussed, as are limitations and avenues for future research.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

uncertainti (222), interact (144), cmc (140), ftf (132), use (114), reduct (89), iur (88), time (76), communic (72), pattern (66), sipt (65), minut (63), differ (53), studi (48), condit (43), walther (42), research (42), would (42), peopl (37), process (33), level (32),

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uncertainty reduction, CMC, internet
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Name: International Communication Association
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http://www.icahdq.org


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MLA Citation:

Westerman, David. and Tamborini, Ron. "Uncertainty Reduction Over Time in Initial Stranger Interactions: A Social Information Processing Theory Approach" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 21, 2008 <Not Available>. 2017-09-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p233499_index.html>

APA Citation:

Westerman, D. K. and Tamborini, R. , 2008-05-21 "Uncertainty Reduction Over Time in Initial Stranger Interactions: A Social Information Processing Theory Approach" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Online <PDF>. 2017-09-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p233499_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Social Information Processing Theory (Walther, 1992) suggests that people can overcome limitations of communication channels to accomplish their communication goals. One common communication goal that has been examined from this perspective is uncertainty reduction (Tidwell & Walther, 2002; Westerman & Tamborini, 2006). However, past research in this area has focused on cross-sectional studies. The current study examines the uncertainty reduction process over time in initial stranger interactions. Drawing on SIPT, the current study examines both uncertainty levels and the use of interactive uncertainty reduction strategies in ongoing face-to-face (FtF) and computer-mediated (CMC) interactions.
In order to address these questions, 60 strangers interacted in male-female dyads for fifteen minutes in one of two modes: face-to-face or using instant messenger. After they interacted, each person was asked to report their uncertainty levels toward their partner for each minute of the interaction retroactively. The interactions were also coded for the number of interactive uncertainty reduction strategies used in each minute. The data showed that although uncertainty started higher in CMC than FtF as expected, it followed similar patterns of reduction over time in both conditions, which was not expected. IURS use followed hypothesized patterns in both CMC and FtF, however. These findings are then discussed, as are limitations and avenues for future research.


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