Social Information Processing Theory, also known as SIP, is a communication theory that explains how people form impressions and make decisions in a social context. The theory was proposed by social psychologists Joseph Walther and Judee Burgoon in the early 1990s.
Joseph Walther is an American communication theorist and researcher who is best known for his contributions to the study of online communication. He received his Ph.D. in Communication from Michigan State University in 1990 and has since held academic positions at various universities.
Walther’s interest in online communication began during his graduate studies when he observed the emergence of computer-mediated communication (CMC) platforms such as email, bulletin board systems, and chat rooms. He was intrigued by how people communicated with each other through these platforms and how they formed relationships despite the lack of face-to-face interaction.
Social Information Processing Theory
In 1992, Walther published a seminal paper titled “Interpersonal Effects in Computer-Mediated Interaction: A Relational Perspective.” In this paper, he proposed Social Information Processing Theory (SIP) as a way to explain how people form impressions and make decisions about others in an online context.
According to SIP, people rely on information cues such as language use, tone of voice, emoticons, and other nonverbal cues to form impressions about others online. These cues are often interpreted differently than they would be in face-to-face interactions due to the lack of physical presence.
Over time, as individuals exchange more messages with each other online, they gradually develop a sense of familiarity with one another. This familiarity leads to increased trust and self-disclosure which can ultimately lead to the formation of close relationships.
Judee Burgoon is an American communication theorist and researcher who is also known for her work on nonverbal communication, deception, and relational communication. She received her Ph. in Communication from Michigan State University in 1975 and has since held academic positions at various universities.
Collaboration with Walther
Burgoon collaborated with Walther on the development of SIP and co-authored several papers with him on the topic. Her contributions to SIP include the concept of expectancy violations, which refers to situations in which people’s expectations about a communication event are violated.
Burgoon and Walther’s work on SIP has been influential in the study of online communication and has paved the way for further research on how people form relationships through technology.
In conclusion, Social Information Processing Theory (SIP) was proposed by Joseph Walther and Judee Burgoon in the early 1990s as a way to explain how people form impressions and make decisions about others in an online context. Their work has had a significant impact on the study of online communication and has helped us better understand how people form relationships through technology.