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The effect of interactivity on initial interactions: the influence of information valence and modality and information richness on computer‐mediated interaction

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Research investigating relationship development through computer-mediated channels has failed to acknowledge the importance of initial interactions. Increasingly, multimodal forms of communication, such as audio- and videoconferencing, in addition to text-only formats have emerged on socially oriented websites designed for relationship initiation. Utilizing the principle of interactivity as a conceptual framework, the present study investigates whether increased structural interactivity provided by the additional aural and visual modalities influences initial interaction processes and outcomes online. The results indicate that increased availability of nonverbal modalities, combined with the valence of the information acquired, significantly affected interaction involvement and mutuality, which are markers of processual interactivity, as well as the interaction outcomes of uncertainty, predicted outcome value, and information seeking. Additional analysis revealed that mutuality mediated the effect of richness on postinteraction uncertainty level and the evaluations of future relationship potential.
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