Interaction Involvement In Cross-Culture Computer-Mediated Communication: Examination Of A Communication Process In Dyadic Instant Messaging Conversations

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This dissertation explores how participants express and interpret verbal cues of interaction involvement in dyadic conversations via text-based Instant Messaging (IM). Moreover, it seeks to discover differences in the way American participants and Chinese participants use verbal cues when they are highly, or lowly involved. Based on previous literature, interaction involvement is defined as a communication process variable, fluctuating during the social interaction under the influence of various individual and contextual factors such as the task workload, the communication style of the participant, or the communication media. I conducted two studies to test my hypotheses and research questions. The first study examined how American, and Chinese participants used verbal cues to express involvement in dyadic, textonly, IM conversations. I conducted experiments with pairs of American, and Chinese students discussing a business proposal. In this discussion, I manipulated the participants' level of involvement using a distraction task. I found that the use of personal pronouns, assent words, cognitive mechanism words, and definite articles were a significant indication of the participants' level of involvement in an IM conversation. Moreover, interaction involvement influenced cognitive and affective processes such as mutual understanding, emotions, and satisfaction in computer-mediated conversations. The second study examined how verbal cues of involvement, namely, the frequency of personal pronouns, and assent words, are perceived and interpreted by participants. I conducted an online survey in which participants had to watch four recordings of four different IM conversations between two students, who used different numbers of personal pronouns, assent words, and total number of words. I found that the use of personal pronouns and assent words affected the participants' evaluation of the students' involvement. Moreover, it influenced the participants' perception of the students' annoyingness, and the general experience the participants reported if they had been asked to work with these students. I discussed the implications of the results from these two studies to theoretical developments in computer-mediated, interpersonal, and intercultural communication research, as well as practical applications to the design of team collaboration tools. I concluded with future directions to advance research about interaction involvement and its impact on the communication process.

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involvement; Instant Messaging; CMC conversations; Cross-culture communication


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Fussell, Susan R.

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Hancock, Jeffrey T.
Bazarova, Natalya N
Wang, Qi

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Ph. D., Communication

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Doctor of Philosophy

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dissertation or thesis

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