Final Abstract for “Talking with Half a Voice”:
As the technology we cling to continues to advance, new research is needed to track changes in communication patterns. Noncontact communication is becoming increasingly popular, but through these means so many nonverbal cues get lost. In this study, gesture frequency was analyzed in 28 college-aged participants (22 women and six men) throughout three different communication scenarios: face-to-face, typing on the Internet, and speaking into a voice-chat program over the Internet. A significant decrease in gesture was observed between the first to the second test conditions, and a significant increase in gesture was seen between the second to the third test conditions. Gesture frequency was also significantly lower in the third test condition in comparison with the first. However, gesture was still present in all of the test conditions. These findings are consistent with previous research done in the field of nonverbal communication, and suggests a dependency on nonverbal cues despite the knowledge that the recipient of the conversation cannot see or interpret the gestures.
Despite the small sample size, I was thrilled to find that my results were significant! If ever possible, I would love to repeat this study with a focus on facial expressions instead of gesture, since typing severely limits the amount of gesture possible in an online conversation. I look forward with sharing more about my project in the Showcase of Summer Research! Thank you to the Department of Psychology at the College of William & Mary for the use of their facilities, and to the Swem Library Media Center for the use of their videography equipment. Also, thank you to Christopher T. Ball and M. Christine Porter for their help in recruiting participants. I am extremely grateful to Lisa Grimes and the Roy R. Charles Center for their funding and support of the James Monroe Scholars here at the College of William & Mary. Lastly, I would like to thank my advisor, Ann M. Reed, for her guidance and support in designing this project; her comments and insight were invaluable to the completion of this study.