Chapter

Media naturalness theory: human evolution and behaviour towards electronic communication technologies

Ned Kock

in Applied Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586073
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731358 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586073.003.0023
  Media naturalness theory: human evolution and behaviour towards electronic communication technologies

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This chapter provides a discussion of what has become known as media naturalness theory, a theory of communication media with a special focus on electronic communication, and developed based on human evolutionary principles. The theory is centered on the media naturalness hypothesis, which argues that, other things being equal, a decrease in the degree of naturalness of a communication medium (or its degree of similarity to the face-to-face medium) leads to the following effects in connection with a communication interaction: (a) increased cognitive effort, (b) increased communication ambiguity, and (c) decreased physiological arousal. It is argued here that the media naturalness hypothesis has important implications for the selection, use and deployment of e-communication tools in organizations. Unlike some previously proposed technology-centric theories, the media naturalness theory is compatible with social theories of behaviour toward electronic communication tools. Among other things, this chapter shows that the media naturalness theory is compatible with the notion that, regardless of the obstacles posed by low naturalness media, individuals using those media to perform collabourative tasks may achieve the same or better task-related outcomes than individuals using media with higher degrees of naturalness.

Keywords: electronic communication; computer-mediated communication; communication media; media richness theory; social influence model

Chapter.  10128 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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