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“What you say and how you say it” matters: An experimental evidence of the role of synchronicity, modality, and message valence during smartphone-mediated communication


ABSTRACT: Nowadays, smartphone-Mediated Communication (SMC) has become a popular form of social interactions. The present experimental study manipulated three aspects of messaging in a WhatsApp chat as a form of SMC: synchronicity (immediate vs. time-lagged response), modality (with or without emojis), and valence (empathic accurate vs. empathic inaccurate response). The aim of this study was to investigate whether these three aspects had an impact on perceived social support, interpersonal trust, and personality attribution of the communication partner. The partial mediation of perceived social presence (the evaluation of the communication partner’s accessibility) and subjective social presence (the perception of being concordant with him/her) was also examined. Participants were 160 young adults, balanced in gender. They were randomly assigned to different the experimental conditions where they engaged in a manipulated WhatsApp chat with a fictitious same-gender communication partner. Post-questionnaire data were analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling. Message valence (empathic accurate response) and modality (with emojis) significantly predicted higher levels of both forms of social presence. Synchronicity (immediate response) predicted higher levels of perceived but not subjective social presence. Social presence, in turn, was positively associated with social support, while subjective, but not perceived social presence, was positively associated with personality attribution. Neither perceived nor subjective social presence were related to interpersonal trust. Our results show that both what is said and how it is said impact the experience of interpersonal relations in SMC.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7497981 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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