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Title: "On the Internet nobody knows you're an expert" : social influence in computer mediated communication
Author: Ilsley, Caroline Rose
ISNI:       0000 0004 2672 9166
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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The focus of this research is on the use of computers as a communication medium, specifically for social purposes, and considers how computer-mediated communication (CMC) might affect persuasion and attitude change processes. The studies are organised around the framework of the classical message learning approach to persuasion (the effects of the source, message, channel and recipient), and the process of persuasion is considered, as well as the final outcome (attitude change). In order to give a more complete view of the influence process, both quantitative and qualitative approaches were taken. Also, both laboratory-based and field-based studies were carried out, which gives greater ecological validity to the research. Five studies were carried out, considering different aspects of the influence process, ranging from examination of source characteristics to the effects of the computer based medium on discussions, and subsequent attitude change. Although some attitude change was found, the medium (computer-based or face-to-face) appeared to have no real effect. However, it was found that the different media had an effect on other aspects of the influence process, particularly on perceptions of the source, and the actual discussion content. An alternative theoretical approach is proposed, based on McGuire's reception yielding model, which provides an explanation of some inconsistencies in both the present and previous research. The reading of a CMC message follows a set sequence of stages, which allows it to be rejected without further processing at different points. Within this process, the information that is significant to the recipient changes, and acts as a weighting for following information. However, in a laboratory-based study this sequence is entered at different points, depending on the experimental focus, and so this process is altered or bypassed entirely, creating a bias towards different information. This would, therefore, need to be taken into account for the comparison of results.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral