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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2001 Feb;4(1):131-46.

Communication and cooperation in networked environments: an experimental analysis.

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Department of Psychology, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy.


Interpersonal communication and cooperation do not happen exclusively face to face. In work contexts, as in private life, there are more and more situations of mediated communication and cooperation in which new online tools are used. However, understanding how to use the Internet to support collaborative interaction presents a substantial challenge for the designers and users of this emerging technology. First, collaborative Internet environments are designed to serve a purpose, so must be designed with intended users' tasks and goals explicitly considered. Second, in cooperative activities the key content of communication is the interpretation of the situations in which actors are involved. So, the most effective way of clarifying the meaning of messages is to connect them to a shared context of meaning. However, this is more difficult in the Internet than in other computer-based activities. This paper tries to understand the characteristics of cooperative activities in networked environments--shared 3D virtual worlds--through two different studies. The first used the analysis of conversations to explore the characteristics of the interaction during the cooperative task; the second analyzed whether and how the level of immersion in the networked environments influenced the performance and the interactional process. The results are analyzed to identify the psychosocial roots used to support cooperation in a digital interactive communication.

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