Face-to-face interaction

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Example of face-to-face interaction between three individuals Participants at GLAM WIKI Tel Aviv Conference 2018 (106).JPG
Example of face-to-face interaction between three individuals

Face-to-face interaction is social communication carried out without any mediating technology. [1] It is defined as the mutual influence of individuals’ direct physical presence with their body language and verbal language. [2] [3] It is one of the basic elements of a social system, forming a significant part of socialization and experience throughout an individual's lifetime. [4] It is also central to the development of groups and organizations composed of those individuals. [4] Face-to-face interaction not only allows people to communicate more directly, but has been shown to improve mental health and can reduce various mental illnesses, most commonly, depression and anxiety. [5]


Studies on face-to-face interaction

Most research and studies on face-to-face interaction is done via direct observation; the goal is to explain the regularities in the actions observed in these interactions. [6] The study of face-to-face interaction examines its organization, rules, and strategy. It has been of interest to scholars since at least the early 20th century. [7] One of the earliest social science scholars to analyze this type of interaction was sociologist Georg Simmel. He defined a society as a number of individuals intertwined by various interactions. In his 1908 book, he observed that sensory organs play an important role in interaction, discussing examples of human behavior such as eye contact. [7] His insights were soon developed by others, including Charles Cooley and George Herbert Mead. [7] Their theories became known as symbolic interactionism; and have since opened the door to a variety and wide range of other theories. [8] Symbolic interactionists are more concerned with subjective meaning rather than objective structure. They focus on how individuals interpret subjective meaning, which leads them to understand how that individual views the world as well as how the repetition of meaningful interactions among individuals is the groundwork to define the formation of society. [9] By the mid-20th century, there was already a sizable scholarly literature on various aspects of face-to-face interaction. [7] Works on this topic have been published by scholars such as Erving Goffman [10] and Eliot Chapple. [7]

Mediated communication

Historically, mediated communication was much rarer than face-to-face. [11] Even though humans have possessed the technology to communicate in space and time (e.g. writing) for millennia, the majority of the world's population lacked the necessary skills, such as literacy, to use them. [11] This began to change with the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg that led to the spread of printed texts and rising literacy in Europe from the 15th century. [11] Since then, face-to-face interaction has begun to steadily lose ground to mediated communication. [11]

Compared with mediated communication

Face-to-face communication has been however described as less preferable to mediated communication in some situations, particularly where time and geographical distance are an issue. [12] For example, in maintaining a long-distance friendship, face-to-face communication was only the fourth most common way of maintaining ties, after telephone, email, and instant messaging. [13]

Despite the advent of many new information and communication technologies, face-to-face interaction is still widespread and popular and has a better performance in many different areas. Nardi and Whittaker (2002) pointed that face-to-face communication is still the golden standard among the mediated technologies based on many theorists, [12] particularly in the context of the media richness theory where face-to-face communication is described as the most efficient and informational one. [14] [15] This is explained because face-to-face communication engages more human senses than mediated communication. [16] Face-to-face interaction is also a useful way for people when they want to win over others based on verbal communication, [17] or when they try to settle disagreements. [18] Besides, it does help a lot for teachers as one effective teaching method. [19] It is also easier to keep a stronger and more active political connection with others by face-to-face interaction. [20]

In the end, there are both pros and cons to each form of communication. Several studies compared the two groups in order to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each. One group was communicating only through face-to-face communication, while the other was communicating only through computer-mediated communication. These studies found that computer-mediated groups perform better than face-to-face groups on idea generation tasks, while face-to-face groups excel in social emotional exchange. This is because face-to-face groups have more tension release and agreement statements, while computer-mediated groups have a tendency of giving more suggestions, opinions, and formal expressions. [21] There is a greater equality of participation in computer-mediated groups, but there's also a higher rate of uninhibited behaviour because computer-mediated groups induce a greater loss of self-awareness. [22] There is generally a reduced sense of social pressure in computer-mediated groups, but there is a stronger perception and sense of understanding in face-to-face groups. [23]

Face-to-face interactions versus social media

Talking to someone face to face gives a person non-verbal cues, such as smiling, physical movement, and body positions that help people communicate. However, since social media lacks face-to-face communication, some individuals have adapted to blind communication when speaking online, seen through texting, commenting, and sending/receiving messages. [24]

By nature, humans are social. Social interaction is essential to survival. With recent advances in technology, such as the Internet, instant messaging, and smartphones, forms many channels and ways to interact with others. However, the human brain has evolved to adapt and keep up with this flood of mass communication. While face-to-face communication is predicted to improve quality of life, Internet and social media communication did not. [25] The Internet opens a new realm of possibilities in connecting with people around the globe with inherent factors in online communication that limit its ability to promote the same level of social satisfaction as traditional face-to-face communication. There are significant differences between online and face-to-face communication, leading to online communication being less emotionally satisfying and fulfilling than face-to-face communication. Social interaction on the internet and through social media platforms makes the interaction considerably difficult to distinguish nonverbal cues. [26] Transitive memory development is also brought by face-to-face communication, which is more effective than online communication. [27]

While technology has been able to bring communities and people closer together, humans have a responsibility to cultivate those connections and nurture them through old-fashioned face-to-face communication. As a human species, continuing to connect with others without hiding behind electronic screens is crucial.

Cross multicultures

Although there are increasingly virtual communications in large transnational companies with the development of Internet, face-to-face interaction is still a crucial tool in communication between employees and staff workers. Face-to-face interaction is beneficial to understand underlying truths that are presented through emotion and body language, especially when there are language and cultural differences present amongst individuals.

Cooperation in a multicultural team requires knowledge sharing. Ambiguous knowledge which arises frequently in a multicultural team is inevitable because of the different language habits. Face-to-face communication is better than other virtual communications for the ambiguous information. The reason is that face-to-face communication can provide non-verbal messages including gestures, eye contact, touch, and body movement. However, the virtual communications, such as email, only have verbal information which will make team members more misunderstanding of the knowledge due to their different comprehension of the same words. On the other hand, the understanding of professional standards shows no difference between face-to-face interaction and virtual communications. [28]

Van der Zwaard and Bannink (2014) examined the effect of video call compared with face-to-face communication on the negotiation of meaning between native speakers and non-native speakers of English. [29] Face-to-face interaction provides individuals who use English as the second language both intentional and unintentional actions which could enhance the comprehension of the chat in English. [29] Individuals are more honest in understanding when they are in face-to-face interaction than in video call due to the potential loss of face issues for the non-native language speakers during the video call. As a result, face-to-face interaction has a more positive influence on the negotiation of meaning than virtual communications such as the video call. [29]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Communication</span> Act of conveying intended meaning

Communication is usually defined as the transmission of information. The term may also refer to the message communicated through such transmissions or the field of inquiry studying them. There are many disagreements about its precise definition. John Peters argues that the difficulty of defining communication emerges from the fact that communication is both a universal phenomenon and a specific discipline of institutional academic study. One definitional strategy involves limiting what can be included in the category of communication. By this logic, one possible definition of communication is the act of developing meaning among entities or groups through the use of sufficiently mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic conventions.

Flaming or roasting is the act of posting insults, often including profanity or other offensive language, on the internet. This term should not be confused with the term trolling, which is the act of someone going online, or in person, and causing discord. Flaming emerged from the anonymity that Internet forums provide cover for users to act more aggressively. Anonymity can lead to disinhibition, which results in the swearing, offensive, and hostile language characteristic of flaming. Lack of social cues, less accountability of face-to-face communications, textual mediation and deindividualization are also likely factors. Deliberate flaming is carried out by individuals known as flamers, which are specifically motivated to incite flaming. These users specialize in flaming and target specific aspects of a controversial conversation

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Internet slang</span> Slang languages used by different people on the Internet

Internet slang is a non-standard or unofficial form of language used by people on the Internet to communicate to one another. An example of Internet slang is "LOL" meaning "laugh out loud". Since Internet slang is constantly changing, it is difficult to provide a standardized definition. However, it can be understood to be any type of slang that Internet users have popularized, and in many cases, have coined. Such terms often originate with the purpose of saving keystrokes or to compensate for small character limits. Many people use the same abbreviations in texting, instant messaging, and social networking websites. Acronyms, keyboard symbols, and abbreviations are common types of Internet slang. New dialects of slang, such as leet or Lolspeak, develop as ingroup Internet memes rather than time savers. Many people also use Internet slang in face-to-face, real life communication.

An internet relationship is a relationship between people who have met online, and in many cases know each other only via the Internet. Online relationships are similar in many ways to pen pal relationships. This relationship can be romantic, platonic, or even based on business affairs. An internet relationship is generally sustained for a certain amount of time before being titled a relationship, just as in-person relationships. The major difference here is that an internet relationship is sustained via computer or online service, and the individuals in the relationship may or may not ever meet each other in person. Otherwise, the term is quite broad and can include relationships based upon text, video, audio, or even virtual character. This relationship can be between people in different regions, different countries, different sides of the world, or even people who reside in the same area but do not communicate in person.

A virtual community is a social network of individuals who connect through specific social media, potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals. Some of the most pervasive virtual communities are online communities operating under social networking services.

Network society is the expression coined in 1991 related to the social, political, economic and cultural changes caused by the spread of networked, digital information and communications technologies. The intellectual origins of the idea can be traced back to the work of early social theorists such as Georg Simmel who analyzed the effect of modernization and industrial capitalism on complex patterns of affiliation, organization, production and experience.

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is defined as any human communication that occurs through the use of two or more electronic devices. While the term has traditionally referred to those communications that occur via computer-mediated formats, it has also been applied to other forms of text-based interaction such as text messaging. Research on CMC focuses largely on the social effects of different computer-supported communication technologies. Many recent studies involve Internet-based social networking supported by social software.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Internet culture</span> Culture that has emerged from the use of computer networks

Internet culture is a culture based on the many manifestations of computer networks and their use for communication, entertainment, business, and recreation. Some features of Internet culture include online communities, gaming, and social media. Due to the massive adoption and widespread use of the Internet, the impact of Internet culture on society and non-digital cultures has been extensive. The encompassing nature of the Internet culture has led to the study of different elements such as social media, gaming and specific communities, and has also raised questions about identity and privacy on the Internet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nonverbal communication</span> Interpersonal communication through wordless (mostly visual) cues

Nonverbal communication (NVC) is the transmission of messages or signals through a nonverbal platform such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and body language. It includes the use of social cues, kinesics, distance (proxemics) and physical environments/appearance, of voice (paralanguage) and of touch (haptics). A signal has three different parts to it, including the basic signal, what the signal is trying to convey, and how it is interpreted. These signals that are transmitted to the receiver depend highly on the knowledge and empathy that this individual has. It can also include the use of time (chronemics) and eye contact and the actions of looking while talking and listening, frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate (oculesics).

Media richness theory, sometimes referred to as information richness theory or MRT, is a framework used to describe a communication medium's ability to reproduce the information sent over it. It was introduced by Richard L. Daft and Robert H. Lengel in 1986 as an extension of information processing theory. MRT is used to rank and evaluate the richness of certain communication media, such as phone calls, video conferencing, and email. For example, a phone call cannot reproduce visual social cues such as gestures which makes it a less rich communication media than video conferencing, which affords the transmission of gestures and body language. Based on contingency theory and information processing theory, MRT theorizes that richer, personal communication media are generally more effective for communicating equivocal issues in contrast with leaner, less rich media.

The uncertainty reduction theory, also known as initial interaction theory, developed in 1975 by Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese, is a communication theory from the post-positivist tradition. It is one of the few communication theories that specifically looks into the initial interaction between people prior to the actual communication process. The theory asserts the notion that, when interacting, people need information about the other party in order to reduce their uncertainty. In gaining this information people are able to predict the other's behavior and resulting actions, all of which according to the theory is crucial in the development of any relationship.

Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is a pedagogical approach wherein learning takes place via social interaction using a computer or through the Internet. This kind of learning is characterized by the sharing and construction of knowledge among participants using technology as their primary means of communication or as a common resource. CSCL can be implemented in online and classroom learning environments and can take place synchronously or asynchronously.

Online disinhibition effect is the lack of restraint one feels when communicating online in comparison to communicating in-person. People feel safer saying things online which they would not say in real life because they have the ability to remain completely anonymous and invisible behind the computer screen. Apart from anonymity, other factors such as asynchronous communication, empathy deficit, or individual personality and cultural factors also contribute to online disinhibition. The manifestations of such an effect could be in both positive and negative directions. Thus online disinhibition could be classified as either benign disinhibition or toxic disinhibition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Social information processing (theory)</span>

Social information processing theory, also known as SIP, is an interpersonal communication theory and media studies theory developed in 1992 by Joseph Walther. Social information processing theory explains online interpersonal communication without nonverbal cues and how people develop and manage relationships in a computer-mediated environment. Walther argued that online interpersonal relationships may demonstrate the same or even greater relational dimensions and qualities (intimacy) as traditional FtF relationships. However, due to the limited channel and information, it may take longer to achieve than FtF relationships. These online relationships may help facilitate interactions that would not have occurred face-to-face due to factors such as geography and intergroup anxiety.

The hyperpersonal model is a model of interpersonal communication that suggests computer-mediated communication (CMC) can become hyperpersonal because it "exceeds [face-to-face] interaction", thus affording message senders a host of communicative advantages over traditional face-to-face (FtF) interaction. The hyperpersonal model demonstrates how individuals communicate uniquely, while representing themselves to others, how others interpret them, and how the interactions create a reciprocal spiral of FtF communication. Compared to ordinary FtF situations, a hyperpersonal message sender has a greater ability to strategically develop and edit self-presentation, enabling a selective and optimized presentation of one's self to others.

Social presence theory explores how the "sense of being with another" is influenced by digital interfaces in human-computer interactions. Developed from the foundations of interpersonal communication and symbolic interactionism, social presence theory was first formally introduced by John Short, Ederyn Williams, and Bruce Christie in The Social Psychology of Telecommunications. Research on social presence theory has recently developed to examine the efficacy of telecommunications media, including SNS communications. The theory notes that computer-based communication is lower in social presence than face-to-face communication, but different computer-based communications can affect the levels of social presence between communicators and receivers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Interpersonal communication</span> Exchange of information between two or more people who are interdependent

Interpersonal communication is an exchange of information between two or more people. It is also an area of research that seeks to understand how humans use verbal and nonverbal cues to accomplish a number of personal and relational goals.

Joseph B. Walther is the Mark and Susan Bertelsen Presidential Chair in Technology and Society and the Director of the Center for Information Technology & Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on social and interpersonal dynamics of computer-mediated communication, in groups, personal relationships, organizational and educational settings. He is noted for creating social information processing theory in 1992 and the hyperpersonal model in 1996.

Emotions in virtual communication differ in a variety of ways from those in face-to-face interactions due to the characteristics of computer-mediated communication (CMC). CMC may lack many of the auditory and visual cues normally associated with the emotional aspects of interactions. Research in this area has investigated how and when individuals display and interpret various emotions in virtual settings.

Mediated communication or mediated interaction refers to communication carried out by the use of information communication technology and can be contrasted to face-to-face communication. While nowadays the technology we use is often related to computers, giving rise to the popular term computer-mediated communication, mediated technology need not be computerized as writing a letter using a pen and a piece of paper is also using mediated communication. Thus, Davis defines mediated communication as the use of any technical medium for transmission across time and space.


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Further reading