Tanis, M., Amsterdam School of Communications Research, ASCoR, The Netherlands
Computer-mediated communication is increasingly becoming a regular form of interaction in the private as well as in the professional sphere. In distributed teams or virtual workgroups (online) computer-mediated communication has taken a central place, and is often the only means of interaction. However, there is a growing interest in whether this sort of interaction is "neutral", in the sense that it leaves interpersonal relations unaffected. The relative lack of most forms of mediated interactions to convey personal cues is assumed to affect a multitude of socio-psychological processes. Personal cues are believed to play an important role in impression formation. However, whether this lack of personal information is an obstacle for trusting a person might (partly) depend on characteristics of (inter)group interaction. Especially when having to trust a person across the boundaries of ones group, personal (i.e. individuating) information could be of great importance. On the other hand, when interacting within ones group, without being able to differentiate group members could very well foster the feeling of shared social identity, thereby increasing the level of interpersonal trust. In order to test these assumptions, an experiment was conducted in which participants were to play an online investment game with a counter-player. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. They were to play with either an ingroup or an outgroup member from which they did or did not receive personal information (in the form of a portrait picture and name). Data analysis is currently taking place and results cannot be reported at this time. The findings will be discussed in the light of the effects for organizational processes.