Analysis of the Role of Uncertainty Reduction Theory in the World of Online Dating
This study tries to analyze how the Uncertainty Reduction Theory plays a role in the world of online dating. Specifically between the behaviors, self-disclosure, and privacy concerns of the online dating partakers. The three researchers, Jennifer L. Gibbs, Nicole B. Ellison, and Chih-Hui Lai, focused the study around major factors including recognition, personal security, misrepresentation, self-efficacy, and then tested it with a model that spread nationwide among the participants. This study attempts to identify and understand the ways people reduce uncertainty when communicating or dating online. While also attempting to understand how people reduce uncertainty when using computer-mediated sources, and the extent to which people self-disclose after reducing uncertainty. Since there is no initial face-to-face interaction, people are more likely to use uncertainty reduction tactics while dating online. There are no physical signs that can hint at a person’s appearance, gender, socioeconomic status, therefore, what people put on the internet can be a misrepresentation of who they actually are. This is what causes uncertainty when communicating strictly online and this study attempts to further understand the factors that cause this realm of uncertainty.
This study focuses on the major concepts that include self-disclosure, privacy, and the reduction of uncertainty people face online. Self-disclosure and privacy are directly correlated with uncertainty, meaning those people will work to reduce uncertainty. There are 4 hypotheses, and the first one stems around the fact that those with higher uncertainty, specifically about recognition, personal security, and misrepresentation, will take part in more uncertainty reduction tactics. The second one is focused on self-efficacy, which is how confidently an individual can perform a specific task. Those with more self-efficacy are expected to reduce the most uncertainty. The third hypotheses are about internet experience and whether or not the participants engage in those information-seeking behaviors. Hypothesis 4 expects those that reduced more uncertainty will self-disclose more. The four hypotheses are focused on the same things from the theory; which action causes the most uncertainty reduction. The research questions also touch on similar topics as the hypotheses. The first research question wants to know if reducing uncertainty affects how much the individual self-discloses. The second one is about which uncertainty reduction strategies people use. The most important parts of the study are the strategies for reducing uncertainty, and which uncertainty causes people to want to reduce it the most.
This study uses quantitative research methods to study the 1.4 million internet participants. The way the people were chosen was from screening and the participants were asked if they were paying to online date through a form of subscription. The people were also narrowed down by those who were not married. From these people, the research company chose a random sample to study specifically and sent them a link to the study. The way the research agency ensured that the participants completed the study was by giving them an incentive of $6 to complete the study. The study wanted to know how dating online affected their in-person interactions. The sample of participants was also sent a second email to remind them to complete the survey. Each participant had their own login information to access the study and that is also how they were identified. This was done for two reasons, the first being that each person completes the study one time each, and the second reason is that only the chosen sample completes the study. The research technique used was reliant on previously created measurements to calculate the things being studied.
The first hypothesis turned out to be correct. All three factors of the hypothesis were also confirmed, they were personal security, misrepresentation, and recognition. These factors were confirmed as playing a role in increasing uncertainty reduction behaviors. The second hypothesis involving self-efficacy was also confirmed as causing uncertainty reducing behaviors. In the third hypothesis, internet experience was confirmed of no importance. Hypothesis 4 also confirmed that those that reduced uncertainty were more likely to self-disclose later on. When going into detail about gender, men were more likely to share more information as opposed to the women who did not engage in self-disclosure. According to their data, online interactions made people more uncertain than those interactions that were in person. The study also said that those who have been on dating sites before had previously taken part in reducing uncertainty in order to feel at ease when communicating.
This study does an excellent job of describing what strategies are used in the Uncertainty Reduction Theory to reduce the uncertainty that online daters experience. This study helps us better understand the strategies of Uncertainty Reduction Theory by explaining the information-seeking tactics that online daters will use. The study had 4 hypotheses. Each hypothesis questioned the different factors that are used to reduce uncertainty in online dating. The study explains in detail all of the concepts and strategies that are used in uncertainty reduction theory. We believe that one of the strengths of this study is the amount of detail and time that was spent explaining different concepts. In communication theory, there are long complicated words that can be hard to understand, but when this study had to use big words, they went into great detail on explaining the concepts at hand, which made it very user-friendly. It was hard for us to determine a weakness because we thought that the study was well done Since the hypothesis was based on the method of pulling people from a commercial research panel, one suggestion that we may have is to narrow the participants to do the survey geographically. We thought that people have different experiences geographically. For example, people in L.A. might be more inclined to reduce uncertainty rather than someone in Missouri. Other than that, the three researchers did an excellent job of pulling from the theory and applying it to their study.
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