Sample Research Prospectus (excluding reference page)
Entrainment in Computer-mediated Communication
has been a paucity of research on the influence of temporal factors on human
behavior and cognition. Although
many of our academic, organizational, and social interactions are affected by
both implicit and explicit temporal constraints, the concept of time has been
routinely ignored in the field of psychology.
According to McGrath, Kelly, & Machatka (1984), endogenous or
naturally occurring temporal rhythms underlie much of human behavior as well as
social interactions at the group level. The
synchronization or lack thereof, of these temporal rhythms have many
implications for social cognition, interaction, and group performance.
from a psychological perspective, the theory of mutual entrainment also suggests
that an individual’s behaviors and attitudes can be unconsciously modified or
adjusted in order to achieve synchrony with an external agent (i.e. another
person, temporal constraints, etc.) (McGrath et al., 1984; McGrath & Kelly,
1983). For example, this endogenous
synchronization usually occurs when individuals are speaking to one other during
face-to-face interactions. When one person has finished a speaking, the second
individual is expected to deliver a verbal or nonverbal response within a
certain implicitly understood time frame, which will be reciprocated by the
original speaker. This verbal
synchronization or rhythm (e.g. length of pause and response) is unique for each
situation and interaction depending on the communicators and the social
environment. Research on behavioral
entrainment (Kelly & Barsade, 2001; Kelly et al., 1990; McGrath & Kelly,
1983) suggests that interaction synchrony between group members may lead to more
positive intra-group affect and enhanced performance on tasks.
and McGrath (1983) randomly assigned dyads to either solve 20, 40, or 80
5-letter anagram puzzles. The
two-person groups worked on the tasks over three work periods of either 5, 10,
or 20 minutes. Groups that started
with a 5 minute period were given increased time over the next two trials (e.g.
5min., 10 min., and 20 min.). Groups
given 20 minutes for the first task were given less time over the next two
trials. The control groups were
given 10 minutes to complete their tasks on all trials.
The researchers found that groups who were given increasing time (5 –
10 - 20 minutes) solved anagrams at faster rates in every condition than did
group whose time decreased or stayed the same.
The researchers suggest that the initial time constraints affected the
groups’ solution rates and this established rate carried over into the
subsequent interactions. Groups
initially attuned or adjusted their solution rates to fit the
experimenter-imposed temporal constraints. Once
established or made normative, this rate persisted even when the temporal
constraints were increased or decreased in subsequent trials (McGrath, Kelly,
& Machatka, 1984).
(Kelly and Barsade, 2001) have indicated that behavioral entrainment between
group members also has implications for group affect and impression formation.
Group members whose behaviors (body language, speech patterns, etc.) are
synchronized during an interaction may lead individuals to communicate in more
fluid and coordinated patterns. This
interaction synchrony increases group affect, satisfaction, and liking for group
members. Lack of mutual entrainment
between group members tends to be unpleasant leading to an increase in negative
issues are a crucial, yet often overlooked component of human behavior and group
interaction. Mutual entrainment or
interaction synchrony between individuals has widespread implications for group
and individual cognition, motivation, affect, and performance. The purpose of
the present research will to examine the influence of behavioral entrainment on
impression formation following computer-mediated interactions.
Past research has examined the effects of behavioral entrainment while
explicitly manipulating external time constraints during face-to-face
interactions. We will be attempting
to implicitly modify behavioral entrainment in a computer-mediated environment
without the use of experimenter-imposed time constraints.
total of four participants will be present at each of the research sessions (2
confederates “pretending to be participants” and 2 actual participants).
The participants (
discussants will be individually seated in private cubicles and will be visually
anonymous to their chat partner during the interaction.
For the experimental control, confederates will be given an identical set
of structured paragraphs to describe specific magazine pictures.
Confederates will be randomly instructed to either correspond with the
participant in a normal fashion (i.e. no time delay), or to wait for 90 seconds
before responding to their partner’s messages (delay) throughout the
discussion. The computerized
transcripts of the discussion will be recorded with time stamps for later
analysis. After the session is
completed the experimenter will ask the participants to rate his/her partner and
the overall interaction on a number of positive/negative impression ratings. A
survey will be administered prior to the online discussion session measuring the
participants experience with computers.
the questionnaire portion of the study, the two actual participants will be
asked to interact with each other in a second conversation session describing
magazine pictures. For half of the
dyads (synchronous condition), the communication will be with a partner whose
confederates responded to them at the same rate (e.g. they both chatted with a
confederate who delayed their responses). For
the rest (desynchronous condition), the dyads will interact with a partner whose
confederates responded to them at different rates respectively (e.g. one
confederate responded immediately and the other delayed response for 90
seconds). Following the second
interaction, the experimenter will again ask the participants to give their
impressions of his/her partner.
2 entrainment rate (Delay vs. No Delay) X 2 partner rate (Synchronous vs.
Desynchronous) analysis of variance (ANOVA) will be used to analyze impression
ratings and response times for each of the discussion groups.
Prior research has only looked at the development and influence of mutual entrainment in face-to-face interactions. These studies have examined the development of interaction synchrony via the explicit manipulation of time constraints. The present study is examining the implicit formation of behavior entrainment within groups, while holding environmental factors constant in a computer-mediated environment.