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Hyperpersonal Model is an interpersonal communication theory that suggests computer mediated communication (CMC) can become hyperpersonal because it "exceeds [face-to-face] interaction," affording message senders a host of communicative advantages over traditional face-to-face (FtF) interaction.[1] Compared to ordinary FtF situations, a hyperpersonal message sender has a greater ability to strategically develop and edit self-presentation, enabling a selective and optimized presentation of one's self to others.[1]

Communication professor Joseph B. Walther is credited with the development of this theory in 1996, after extensive research on computer mediated communication.

Elements

Receivers

Walther argues that receivers have an "idealized perception" of the message sender in CMC. He uses Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE). According to Walther, SIDE predicts that subtle context cues take on a strong value in CMC. CMC partners build impressions of one another on minimal cues.[1]

Senders

In CMC, message senders have a greater opportunity to optimize their self-presentation. Walther argues, "[CMC participants] were better able to plan, and had increased opportunity to self-censor. With more time for message construction and less stress of ongoing interaction, users may have taken the opportunity to objective self-awareness, reflection, selection and transmission of preferable cues."[1] Reduced communication cues and potentially asynchronous communication are both common in CMC.

Reduced Cues: CMC reduces cues present in normal FtF interactions. In CMC, first impressions aren't based on physical, and instead rely on information and personality. Senders impressions are more malleable than in an in-person interaction.[1]

Walther cites a study by Chilcoat and DeWine (1985) in which three interpersonal perceptions were examined (attractiveness, attitude similarity, and credibility) against three asynchronous communication vehicles (FtF, videoconferencing, and audioconferencing). One would expect FtF to produce higher ratings for the interpersonal characteristics, but the opposite was true: audioconferencing partners produced higher ratings of their partners' attractiveness, attitude similarity, and credibility than in videoconference or FtF interaction.[1]

Asynchronous Channel

Since CMC doesn't require copresence the way FtF communication does, members can take part in activities at their own convenience. Walther cites a relaxation of time constraints in CMC, allowing for an asynchronous mode of communication. For example, with group communication, "...Making temporal commitments becomes discretionary. Group members may attend to the group process independently in time. When partners may attend their groups at their convenience, limitations on the amount of partners' mutual time available for meetings are less problematic."[1]

According to Walther, CMC removes temporal limitations, thereby freeing time constraints. "Both task-oriented and socially oriented exchanges may take place without one constraining the time available for the other."[1]

Feedback Processes

Walther argues that the behavioral confirmation - "reciprocal influence that partners exert" in sender-receiver roles - is magnified in minimal-cue interaction like CMC.[1]

Examples & Application

Hian, Chuan, Trevor, and Detenber's 2006 study shows support for the hyperpersonal model. They found that relational intimacy increased at a faster rate in CMC than in FtF interactions.[2]

Anderson and Emmers-Sommer used hyperpersonal theory to test their predictors of relationship satisfaction in online romantic relationships. Based on hyperpersonal theory, it's likely that users of CMC would feel more satisfaction in an online relationship since the communication is enhanced and there a reduced amount of cues on which to base the relationship. [3]

In a 2006 study of politeness of requests made via email and voicemail, Kirk Duthler determined that emails were ranked more polite because users had more time to compose their requests compared to the voicemail user. Duthler's study supports hyperpersonal theory. He said: "The filtering of nonverbal cues advantages communicators. Communicators are strategically enabled to manipulate their identity, time the transmission of their messages, and plan, organize, and edit their communication in pursuit of relational goals. Such strategic control in CMC can facilitate negotiation, relationship development, and social tasks."[4]

The hyperpersonal theory is also confirmed in a study of the disclosure-intimacy link in CMC vs FtF communication. Research proved that CMC "intensified the association between disclosure and intimacy relative to face-to-face interactions, and this intensification was fully mediated by increased interpersonal (relationship) attributions observed in the computer-mediated condition." [5]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23, 3-43.
  2. Lee Bee Hian; Sim Li Chuan; Tan Mon Kiat Trevor; Benjamin H. Detenber (2006). Getting to Know You: Exploring the Development of Relational Intimacy in Computer-mediated Communication Article first published online: 23 JUN 2006
  3. Traci Anderson; Tara Emmers-Sommer (2006). Predictors of Relationship Satisfaction in Online Romantic Relationships. Communication Studies. Vol 57, No. 2, June 2006, pp. 153-172.
  4. Duthler, Kirk W. (2006). The Politeness of Requests Made Via Email and Voicemail: Support for the Hyperpersonal Model. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 500-521.
  5. L. Crystal Jiang, Natalie N. Bazarova, Jeffrey T. Hancock. The Disclosure–Intimacy Link in Computer-Mediated Communication: An Attributional Extension of the Hyperpersonal Model. Article first published online: 22 DEC 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j. 1468-2958.2010.01393.x

Additional Information

Hyperpersonal theory example

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