Hampton et al. (2018)Channels of Computer Mediated Communication and Satisfaction in Long Distance Relationships

In this study, an international sample of 588 individuals who were currently involved in a long distance relationship completed a survey that assessed their use of various communication technologies, as well as their communication satisfaction and overall relationship satisfaction.

The study discusses some theories and consequences of computer mediated modes of technology when it comes to relationships such as the Media Richness Theory, the Social Information Processing Theory, and the Hyper-Personal Model of CMC. The media richness theory dispels the idea that CMC is detrimental to relationship success and says that there is a sort of “richness” to some forms of CMC and can come very close to face to face communication. Examples of rich forms are Skype, Facetime and Google Hangouts, which could “be especially important for individuals in LDRs who are not readily able to communicate face-to-face. A slightly less rich but also important applications such as SnapChat,texting, or picture messaging as a “social snack”  to long distance partners and can satiate their “social appetite”, and make them feel a sense of belonging.

The Social Information Processing Theory states that “the exchange of social information is important for increasing intimacy in relationships” and argues that “despite any reduction in nonverbal and contextual cues in text-based CMC, social information can still be transmitted.” In other words people are possibly sharing more intimate information with each other with these “leaner” modalities, and people who only communicate through CMC are sharing the same if not more information about each other. Therefore, they argue that because people in LDRs have to resort to these leaner methods, they end up sharing more personal information .I found this interesting as it would seem like a pro, however I question whether people find the same information less meaningful over CMC and almost cancels out the information sharing? How intimate can communication really be over CMC or are we now de-sensitized to it?

The Hyper-Personal Model of CMC argues that “it is possible for more positive impressions to develop through CMC and other forms of communication technology than through the exclusive use of face-to-face communication” because of greater control of the communication and your ability to portray yourself more positivity. This would in turn possibility create idealization perceptions of each other which obviously would have pros and cons.

Again this study focuses on which channels were used and the frequency, and finally the satisfaction level. (rated from 1 to 7). The study “found that participants generally did not use social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat as common means of communication in their LDRs.” Couples in LDRs preferred more private and easily accessible communication channels, therefore social media is not an optimal medium of private communication for long-distance couples. Skype was found to be the only medium of communication that was positively associated with overall relationship satisfaction.

In conclusion, the results were similar to previous research done on CMC and relationships, that if ,”face-to-face contact is limited, couples should find other ways to create a sense of a shared social presence in real time. The closest medium of communication to physical, face-to-face contact is Skype”, but there are obvious limitation to this such as internet connection and time zones etc.


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