Communication mode influence on idealization in long distance relationships




Gomillion, Sarah C.

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Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has rapidly become a pervasive medium of communication and may promote positive illusions between communication partners to a greater extent than telephone and face-to-face (FtF) communication. CMC may be especially useful for couples in long distance relationships (LDRs), who are also known to idealize their relationships. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the influence of different communication modes (i.e., CMC, FtF communication, and telephone communication) on idealization, satisfaction, commitment, and comparison level of alternatives (CLalt) among participants in LDRs. After completing a pretest measure, 40 participants in LDRs (34 women, 6 men) completed instruments for three weeks assessing these variables after interacting with their partners via the three communication modes. The findings showed that participants felt the most positively in general about their FtF communication, followed by phone communication and CMC. There was some limited evidence suggesting that participants may have felt more committed to their partners after communicating online than after communicating through the other modes and more satisfied after communicating by phone than through the other modes. There were no effects of communication on idealization and CLalt. The present findings suggest that CMC may not be the mechanism that fosters idealization in LDRs but that different communication modes may affect individuals' views of their relationships and partners.


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communication, computer mediated communication, idealization, long distance relationships