Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) is currently a source of interpersonal interactions. CMC comes in form of chat rooms, emailing, instant messaging and social website certain personality variables affect the experience of internet communication. For instance, some individuals who feel more anxious during face-to-face (FtF) communication are likely to feel at ease when communicating via CMC. A research has therefore been carried out to find out whether some individuals feel less or more anxious when using CMC than FtF.
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With the increasing use of CMC, many researchers are now trying to examine the negative effects of CMC, especially the psychological effects. Internet use can lead to addiction as it affects the social activities. Research also provides that relationships that are based on CMC do not provide high intimacy levels as FtF relationships would do. There has also been a decline in social circles communication with the family as well as with friends as a result of CMC usage. Previous research also suggests that students who highly use CMC perform poorer academically and they highly rely on the internet unlike those students who rarely use CMC.
Internet use can also have some positive psychological effects. For instance, some individuals who frequently use the internet in socializing are reported to have both CMC and FtF relationships as those individuals who use the internet less frequently. Relationships are also encouraged to grow through CMC for example through instant messaging with peers. A different study revealed that females who conversed through CMC with strangers reported more happiness than those females who conversed with strangers on FtF environment.
Results of the study showed that most individuals tend to be less anxious while communicating via CMC than while communicating via FtF. This is so because it has a sense of anonymity and one is able to control the interaction pace and speed while using CMC. Extraversion and neuroticism were also examined whether they moderate the participants’ anxiety. It was found out that extraversion moderated the communication type and that introverts were more anxious after FtF interaction than following CMC interaction. Extraverts on the other hand showed less anxiety following both CMC and FtF interactions. CMC provides anonymity which reduces anxiety during such interaction. It has been found out, following previous research, that introverts and shy individuals use the internet to start relationships and this supports the findings of the research. The reduction of anxiety is likely to make the introverts to try CMC social interactions.
The neurotic individuals were found to be more anxious after FtF interaction than following CMC interaction. On the other hand, participants with low neuroticism showed less anxiety following both CMC and FtF interactions. This is in line with the research that reveled that that less emotionally stable women utilize the internet socially than that the emotionally stable women.
This study must have had certain limitations in that the researcher used Unioversity female undergraduates as the sample. It is therefore not clear if the study would have revealed similar results if it included males or the older population. Again, the researcher used the laboratory design yet different results could have been yielded following free interaction of individuals outside the laboratory.
Through reading this piece of research I am more informed that most people report high levels of anxiety following FtF communications than following CMC communication. It is therefore important to understand the psychological effects of CMC as well as FtF effects. Those people who wish to make friends online, conduct businesses or even to find romantic partners are likely to benefit from this information. This is so because they will be able to understand psychological effects of CMC and those of FtF. They will also learn the characteristics that moderate this relationship.
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