Competition among interpersonal media : the impact of rational, relational, social, and individual factors on media choice

Published on Jan 1, 2006
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Abstract
We are living in a media-rich society. The development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has led to their dramatic movement from work-oriented practices into people’s everyday life during the last decade. Nowadays, while people are freed from the boundaries of time and place in communication, they have to constantly make choice decisions on which medium to use for a given task. However, scholarly research appears to always lie behind the development of technology. Proliferation of new media coincides with a new domain of research entitled mediated interpersonal communication where the puzzles toward individuals’ media choice are suspended. This study is a theoretical as well as empirical exploration of why and how individuals choose among various interpersonal media, old and new, for communication tasks within dyadic interactions. A theoretical framework is developed primarily based on the notion of task-media fit in media richness theory, and is sustained by the theoretical work from diverse but related areas such as social influence models of media choice, technology acceptance models, diffusion of innovation research, and decision making theories. The central claim of the theoretical framework is that media choice is a trading-off process as a matter of limited problem solving, directed to a satisfying choice rather than an optimal one, resulting from the match of media attributes, task requirements, and interpersonal relationships, and guided by communicators’ perceptions of media characteristics and normative beliefs. There are six clusters of factors proposed to influence media choice: objective media attributes including media synchronicity and media modality; rational task characteristics including message ambiguity and task urgency; relationship formality
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