Computer-mediated communication

From Academic Kids

Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) is any form of communication between two or more individual people who interact and/or influence each other via separate computers through the Internet or a network connection - using social software. CMC does not include the methods by which two computers communicate, but rather how people communicate using computers. It is only peripherally concerned with any common work product created.


Scope of the field

Linguists study CMC to observe how language is used in computer-mediated settings (online discourse environments). This includes such paralinguistic features as emoticons; pragmatic rules like turn taking; and specialised registers or sets of terminology specific to these environments (see Leet).

A sociological approach to CMC covers how humans use "computers" (or digital media) to form, support and maintain relationships with others (social uses), regulate information flow (instructional uses), and make decisions (including major financial and political ones). It does not focus on common work products or other "collaboration" but rather on "meeting" itself, on such human problems as lying and blaming, and on other trust questions: how computer mediation changes the character or emotional consequences of meetings or relationships.

The way humans communicate in professional, social, and educational settings is different, depending upon not only the environment but also the method of communication in which the communication occurs, which in this case, is through the use of computers. The study of communication to achieve collaboration - common work products - called computer-supported collaboration and includes only some of the concerns of CMC.

CMC mostly occurs through e-mail, video, audio or chat (text conferencing including "instant messaging"), bulletin boards, list-servers and multi-player video games. These settings are changing rapidly with the developement of new technologies. In her 1988 study, Murray identified e-mail, e-messages, bulletin boards, lists and forums as the five main varieties of computerized communication.

More recently, weblogs have become popular, though they lack the equal power relationship of most CMC, the exchange of RSS data has better enabled users to each "become their own publisher".

The wiki, e.g. LiveJournal, has come to provide interesting alternatives for communication. Wikipedia itself is usually considered more of a computer-supported collaboration situation, though certainly much CMC occurs, e.g. on the User talk pages.


Switching communication to a more computer mediated form has an effect on many different factors: impression formation, deception and lying behavior, group dynamics, disinhibition, and especially relationship formation.

CMC is examined and compared to other communication media through three common aspects of any forms of communication: synchronicity, persistence or "recordability", and anonymity. Each of these aspects vary widely for different forms of communication. For example, instant messaging is highly synchronous, but rarely persistent since one loses all the content when one closes the dialog box unless one has a message log set up or has manually copy-pasted the conversation. E-mail and message boards are similar; both are low in synchronicity since response time varies, but high in persistence since messages sent and received are saved.

Anonymity and in part privacy and security, depends more on the context and particular program/web page being used. It is important to remember the psychological and social implications of these factors, instead of just focusing on the technical limitations.

Some properties of communication media: Missing image
Communications media and their properties

Impact of Communication Technology on Lying Behavior

In a study conducted by Dr. Jeffrey T. Hancock, director of the Computer-Mediated Communication Research Laboratory at Cornell University, deception in commonly used communication mediums, the telephone, email, and instant messaging, was examined to determine how communications technology affects lying behavior relative to Face-to-Face (FtF) interactions.

The three design aspects studied were ‘’synchronicity’’ (the degree to which messages are exchanged instantaneously and in real-time) of the interaction, the ‘’recordability’’ (the degree to which the interaction is automatically documented) of the medium, and whether or not the speaker and listener are ‘’distributed’’ (they do not share the same physical space). What was found in the study was that synchronous media increase opportunities for deception. In a FtF, instant messaging, or telephone conversations, people lie more often because most lies are unplanned. In a less synchronous medium, such as email, the opportunity for spontaneous lying is much less, thus lies occur less often in email. Another finding of the study was that users will be hesitant to lie in a medium which can be recorded and reviewed. Instant messages can be logged by services such as DeadAIM and [[AIM+]], third-party add-ons to the instant messaging program AOL Instant Messenger, emails are saved by both sender and receiver. Users are more likely to lie when using FtF or telephone interactions which are typically not recorded in order to avoid being caught. Lastly, participants restrain from lying if the media is not distributed because being copresent limits deception concerning issues contradicted by the physical setting. The example from Dr. Hancock's report is "I'm working on a case report" when in fact the speaker is surfing news on the web.

The more synchronous and distributed, but less recordable, a medium is, the more frequently lying should occur. Of the four mediums studied, lying occurred most frequently on the telephone, followed by FtF and instant messaging, and least frequently in e-mails.


  • Hancock, J.T., Thom-Santelli, J., & Ritchie, T. (2004). Deception and design: The impact of communication technologies on lying behavior. Proceedings, Conference on Computer Human Interaction, 6, 130-136. New York, ACM.
  • Murray, D. E. (1988). The context of oral and written language: a framework for mode and medium switching. Language in Society, 17, pp.351-373.

External links

  • [1] ( Communications @
  • [2] ( Cornell University CMC

tl:Komunikasyong gamit ang kompyuter


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