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However, bonding, as measured by both self-report and affiliation cues, differed significantly across conditions, with the greatest bonding during in-person interaction, followed by video chat, audio chat, and IM in that order.
Considerable research on computer-mediated communication has examined online communication between strangers, but little is known about the emotional experience of connectedness between friends in digital environments.
However, adolescents and emerging adults use digital communication primarily to communicate with existing friends rather than to make new connections.
We compared feelings of emotional connectedness as they occurred in person and through digital communication among pairs of close friends in emerging adulthood.
Fifty-eight young women, recruited in pairs of close friends, engaged in four conversations each: in-person, video chat, audio chat, and instant messaging (IM).
By the late 1970’s, experimental work examining information exchange through teleconferencing and closed-circuit television was advanced enough to warrant a review in Psychological Bulletin (Williams, 1977).
In the years since, CMC researchers have compared audiovisual, auditory, and text-based communication to in-person communication on a wide variety of variables, including efficiency of communication, cognitive task performance, intimacy of disclosure, and trust (Antheunis, Schouten, Valkenburg, & Peter, 2012; Bargh, Mc Kenna, & Fitzsimons, 2002; Burgoon et al., 2002; Ray & Floyd, 2006; Tidwell & Walther, 2002; Walther, Loh, & Granka, 2005).
To examine bonding in close friendships, we turn to the work of Gonzaga and colleagues.
In a series of studies, these researchers discovered that a cluster of four nonverbal cues—the Duchenne smile, affirmative head nods, leaning towards the conversation partner, and positive hand gesturing—relate reliably to feelings of affection towards a friend and commitment to close relationships (Gonzaga et al., 2001, 2006).
We summarize these feelings and commitment to the relationship with the term “bonding,” a central concept in our study. (2001), we term the nonverbal cues associated with bonding affiliation cues.
Given the evidence suggesting that this particular cluster of cues is a distinct indicator of feelings of affection in face-to-face interaction, we examined how affiliation cues change in mediated contexts.