Bonding in each condition was measured through both self-report and affiliation cues (i.e., nonverbal behaviors associated with the emotional experience of bonding).Participants reported feeling connected in all conditions.Interlocutors furthermore may experience the online disinhibition effect (Suler, 2004), whereby the nature of text-based communication itself contributes to feelings of intimacy and connectedness.
Emerging adults are among the most avid users of digital communication technologies, including texting, instant messaging (IM), and video chat (Duggan & Brenner, 2013; Lenhart et al., 2011).
Furthermore, today’s 18-29 year olds are often described as “digital natives” because they have grown up using these technologies, utilizing text-based tools to develop existing friendships during adolescence, a sensitive period for socioemotional development (Baird, 2010; Prensky, 2001; Steinberg, 2005).
Social information processing theory (Walther, 1992), suggests a more complex story: when using a medium with limited availability of visual cues or other channels of communication, interlocutors adapt their behaviors in order to connect more effectively using that particular medium.
While bonding may take longer, Walther argues, it can ultimately reach levels present in face-to-face communication.
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.