University of Wisconsin–Madison

USING LOW-STAKES RESEARCH PROJECTS TO CRITICALLY ANALYZE COURSE CONTENT

Professor Catalina Toma, Communication Arts

Assignment #1: Theories of relationship formation in reduced-cue online environments

In class, we have discussed four theories of how strangers form personal relationships in reduced-cue online environments (e.g., social presence theory, social information processing theory, social identity/deindividuation effects theory, and the hyperpersonal model). Choose two of these theories, describe them in detail, and identify similarities and differences between them. Then, propose an empirical study that tests an aspect of one of your chosen theory that was not discussed in class or in the readings. Use either Facebook or online dating as a context for your proposed study. Clearly state your hypothesis, and why it logically flows from your chosen theory. Then, briefly describe the study procedure (i.e., what will participants be asked to do? Will anything be manipulated? What will be measured and how?). Finally, identify the variables you will be testing and specify their nature (dependent/independent, categorical/continuous).

Grading rubric:

Describe theory #1……………………………20 pts

Describe theory #2……………………………20 pts

Similarities between theories……………..…15 pts

Differences between theories……………….15 pts

Proposed study

Description………………………….10 pts

Hypothesis.………………………….10 pts

Variables…………………………….10 pts

Total: 100 pts.

Formatting. Please format your paper in the American Psychological Association (6th Ed) style. You can find helpful information about APA here.

Please use (1) a separate title page; (2) 1-inch margins; (2) Times New Roman font, size 12; and (3) double-spacing throughout the manuscript.

Length. Your paper should NOT exceed 3 pages in length. We will not be reading beyond the third page. Please note that, while we value conciseness in writing, a paper that is shorter than 3 pages is unlikely to address the requirements of the assignment adequately.

Due date: Monday, July 22 at 10 am. Please submit your paper as a Word document using the Dropbox function on Learn@UW.

Assignment #2: Close relationships and media use

Choose one close relational partner (i.e., family member, close friend, romantic partner) and track your interactions with him/her during one full day. Use the attached questionnaire to record all your interactions with this person. Please submit the completed questionnaire along with your paper. Note that your questionnaire does NOT count towards the required paper length.

Analyze your responses. You do not have to calculate statistics (although you are welcome to do so if you wish). Simply “eyeballing” the data is sufficient. Which theories and concepts discussed in class are relevant to your experience? Why? Does your experience support the theories or not? Be sure to describe, in detail, the theories you are using, to connect your responses/data with the theories, and to argue persuasively why your own interaction patterns support or do not support the theories. Discuss at least two theories/concepts.

For instance, you may consider theories related to long-distance relationships, jealousy, Hyperpersonal model, etc. You may consider issues such as (1) how the level of intimacy you experience in your contact with your partner is affected by media use; (2) how the duration/quality of contact affects your overall feelings of intimacy/closeness with your partner; (3) how media multiplexity occurs in your relationship, etc.

Grading rubric:

Summarize your interaction data………………………………………….20 pts

Describe theories/concepts………………………………………………..30 pts

Connect your responses/data with the theories selected………………20 pts

Argue how your experience supports/ does not support the theories…30 pts

Total: 100 pts

Formatting. Please format your paper in the American Psychological Association (6th Ed) style. You can find helpful information about APA here.

Please use (1) a separate title page; (2) 1-inch margins; (2) Times New Roman font, size 12; and (3) double-spacing throughout the manuscript.

Length. Your paper should NOT exceed 3 pages in length. We will not be reading beyond the 3rd page.

Please note that, while we value conciseness in writing, a paper that is shorter than 3 pages is unlikely to address the requirements of the assignment adequately.

Due date: Monday, August 5th at 10 am

Submission format. Please submit your paper as a Word document using the Dropbox function on Learn@UW.

Relational Questionnaire

1.     Partner initials:

2.     Type of relationship:

a.     Family

b.     Friendship

c.     Romantic

3.     Generally speaking, how close/intimate do you feel with this person?

1 (not at all)    2        3        4        5         6     7(extremely)

4.     How long have you been in a relationship with this person? _________

1.     On a weekly basis, which media do you use to communicate with your partner? Select all that apply.

a.     Telephone (i.e., voice calling)

b.     E-mail

c.     Texting (SMS/Blackberry message/iMessage)

d.     Instant messenger (including Facebook chat and text-only Skype chat)

e.     Video-conferencing

f.      Facebook (e.g., wall posts, comments, likes, photo sharing, tagging)

g.     Twitter

h.     Video Games (including console, phone and online games, but excluding Facebook games)

i.      Other ____________________

j.      None

 

 

Interaction Diary

Instructions: For every contact you have with this person during the diary day, answer the following questions.

By contact, we mean one face-to-face meeting, sending or receiving an email/text to this person, having an IM/Facebook chat with this person, looking at this person’s Facebook profile, liking or commenting on this person’s Facebook’s profile, reading this person’s Twitter, viewing this person’s Instagram, etc.  

CONTACT #1

1.     In which media did the contact take place?

2.     What did the contact involve? (e.g., phone convo, viewing Facebook profile)

3.     Duration of contact: ______hrs; ______minutes

4.     How would you characterize your contact with this person? (on a scale from 1 to 7)

Relaxed (1) – Strained (7)    _______

Impersonal – Personal _________

In-depth – Superficial __________

Awkward – Comfortable _________

No misunderstandings – A great deal of misunderstandings __________

Free of conflict – Full of conflict ______________

Satisfying – Not satisfying _____________

Intimate – Not intimate ________

Planned – Spontaneous _________

Positive – Negative __________

5.     Did this contact change your feelings about the relationship?

a.     Enhanced my positive feelings

b.     Enhanced my negative feelings

c.     No change

6.     How positively do you view your partner at the end of this interaction?

1(not at all)   2       3      4     5     6    7(extremely)

7.     How negatively do you view your partner at the end of this interaction?

1(not at all)   2       3      4     5     6    7(extremely)