This study used Social Impact Theory to explore sources and functions of interpersonal influence in Computer-Mediated Communication. Participants were 43 female and 17 male graduate students ranging from 25 to 60 years of age. In each of five distinct graduate classes (n1 = 15, n2 = 11, n3 = 10, n4 = 12, n5 = 12) delivered online at a research university, participants engaged in anonymous and computer-mediated discourse and then nominated peers who were directive and/or influential (positive and negative) during the online interaction. High numbers of peer nominations were expected to characterize participants perceived as emanating social impact. Four interpersonal factors were chosen as strength operants in accordance with Social Impact Theory and were, therefore, expected to predict social impact. Of the four, assertiveness and exaggeration were significant, while emotional intensity and sensitivity were not. Two factors, contribution total and word total, were chosen as immediacy operants in accordance with Social Impact Theory. Both factors were found to be significant predictors of social impact. Implications of these findings relative to online learning and interpersonal influence as it occurs in an online context are discussed.
- Computer-Mediated Communication
- Social impact
- Technologically-mediated communication