Former AICE member Lisanne Pauw (currently assistant professor at Utrecht University) published a paper reviewing how effective social support may be brought about in face-to-face interactions, computer-mediated interactions and interactions with virtual agents.
People tend to share their emotional experiences with others, with sharing increasingly done online. This raises questions about the quality of computer-mediated vs. face-to-face sharing. The present review (1) outlines conditions for sharing to improve emotional and relational well-being, (2) discusses when computer-mediated sharing with other people may (not) be conducive to these conditions, and (3) reviews recent research on the effectiveness of computer-mediated sharing with humans and virtual agents. It is concluded that the emotional and relational consequences of sharing are dependent on the responsiveness of the listener, regardless of the communication channel. Differences exist, however, in the extent to which channels are conducive to various forms of responding, with implications for speakers’ emotional and relational well-being.