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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2007 Jun;10(3):424-35.

Text or talk? Social anxiety, loneliness, and divergent preferences for cell phone use.

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School of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom.


This paper investigates whether social anxiety and loneliness lead to contrasting beliefs and preferences among cell phone users towards texting and talking on their cell phones. Three hypotheses are examined: (1) that social anxiety and loneliness are differentially associated with generalized preferences either for texting or for talking on the cell phone, (2) that these preferences are linked to contrasting beliefs concerning the social functionality of the short message service (SMS), and (3) that these divergent beliefs mediate the effects of social anxiety and loneliness on cell phone users' generalized preferences for texting or talking. Results from an Internet questionnaire (N=158) showed that, whilst lonely participants preferred making voice calls and rated texting as a less intimate method of contact, anxious participants preferred to text, and rated it a superior medium for expressive and intimate contact. These divergent beliefs accounted for 36% and 16% of the variance in preference for texting and voice calls, respectively, and significantly attenuated the influence of loneliness and social anxiety when they were added to the regression equations for these measures. Results are discussed in terms of the hyperpersonal possibilities of mobile communications technologies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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