Human Behavior in Chatrooms

Human Behavior in Chatrooms

Shawn Loewen (Michigan State University, USA) and Jiawen Wang (University of Detroit Mercy, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch012
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The development of new technologies has had an impact on human behavior and communication from time immemorial. With the growing rate of technological advancement during the past 100 years, the changes have occurred even more rapidly. In an effort to understand the effects of one medium on human behavior and communication, this article explores and synthesizes research that has been conducted over the past 30 years, in what has come to be known as the chatroom. The chatroom, in the form of Internet Relay Chat (IRC), was developed in the late 1980s, and has been growing in popularity ever since. Chatrooms are Web-based platforms that allow synchronous, written communication between two or more interested participants in a forum that is potentially open to other interested participants.
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The use of chatrooms may be examined in several ways. One distinction can be made according to the general purpose of the interaction, with a two main categories being pedagogical and recreational. A considerable amount of research has investigated chatroom use in pedagogical and educational settings, perhaps because researchers themselves are generally familiar with this context. Consequently, numerous studies have described and evaluated how students and teachers use chatrooms. Less research has been conducted into recreational uses of chatrooms; nevertheless, research has investigated how and why people use chatrooms for social and leisure purposes.

Another distinction can be made between the linguistic and other behavioral aspects of chatroom use. Given that one of the main features of chatrooms is the language that occurs therein, a large body of research has investigated how language is used and how chatroom language may differ from face to face interaction (F2F). Behavioral aspects include issues of identity and social relationships. All of these facets of chatroom use will be examined in turn.

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