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Lisa Hauser


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Email as a Computer Mediated Communication Tool and Romantic Love

                         Lisa M. Hauser

                New Jersey Institute of Technology

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       Within recent years, Computer Mediated Communication technologies have affected the

nature of epistolary interactions between couples involved in romantic relationships. Email is a

CMC tool that meshes quite naturally with romantic love and intimacy. This type of

correspondence has the ability to intensify the intimacy, passion, self-disclosure, presence and

fantasy experienced from romantic love itself in some couples. The question is if email has the

capacity to reinforce face-to-face romantic relationships. This descriptive study is interested in

examining the romantic relationships shared between couples and how a CMC medium such as

email is used between these individuals to reinforce their face-to-face relationship.
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       Face-to-face romantic relationships are centered on passion and intimacy. Intimacy

consists of self-disclosure, presence and imagination/fantasy which are the same attributes

needed to conduct intimate email relationships. Technology has made the email relationship an

improved version of the interpersonal exchanges conducted via handwritten letters due to speed

of information exchange, increased support for self-disclosure and increased feeling of presence

or close proximity with the significant other. Email correspondence has the ability to intensify

the emotion, passion, and fantasy experienced from romantic love itself in some couples. The

question is if email has the capacity to reinforce face-to-face romantic relationships.

       What is romantic love? Unfortunately, love is an ambiguous term and concrete

definitions have been almost impossible for researchers to create. In fact, John Lee, a sociologist,

believed that the word love had many behavioral referents which result in an acknowledgement

that there are many ways of loving.1 Researchers have conducted studies and have attempted to

define general styles of love. For example, R. J. Sternberg developed the Triangular Theory of

Love.2 He concluded that intimate relationships are comprised of three components: intimacy,

passion and commitment. He defined eight types of relationships by specifying combinations of

these three dimensions (See Fig. 1).
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                            Figure 1: Sternberg’s Triangle Theory of Love

       Nonlove is devoid of any of the dimensions and can be associated with most common

types of interactions we have with other people. Liking consists only of intimacy or closeness to

another and infatuation takes place when someone has passion for or is aroused by another

person. Empty love occurs when there is only commitment, such as a marriage where the couple

has lost all intimacy and passion, but has chosen to stay together anyway. Consummate love is

comprised of all three dimensions and is difficult to achieve, while companionate love consists

of commitment and intimacy without passion, such as a long-term relationship that has lost the

passion. Fatuous love exists as a combination of passion and commitment and happens when a

couple meets and quickly gets married without really getting to know each other intimately.

Finally, romantic love, which is driven off of attraction, is made up of intimacy and passion (qtd.

in Knapp and Vangelisti 222-223).
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        Although Sternberg defined these eight classifications of love, it should be noted that

“[I]n reality, behaviors representing each dimension most likely occur in various degrees”

(Knapp and Vangelisti 222). Therefore, it is possible that any one type of love can contain

elements of all three dimensions, just in differing amounts. With that said, this study focuses on

romantic love. Studies regarding intimate computer-mediated relationships describe the

relationships similarly to Sternberg‟s definition of romantic love. The types of relationships

people experience with computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies such as email

and instant messaging systems tend to be summarized in research results, articles and books as

intimate, passionate and imaginative, characteristics very much like those describing romantic


        The individuals involved in romantic relationships tend to share passionate feelings. They

are attracted to each other and often find themselves aroused by the other‟s presence or the very

thought of the other person. In this way, Berscheid and Walster state that “[. . .]passionate love is

aroused by one‟s imagined fantasies[. . .]” (qtd. in Knapp and Vangelisti 224).3 It has also been

found that these romantic lovers also prefer rapid self-disclosure and sexual intimacy in their

relationships (Knapp and Vangelisti 217). In order to reach greater intimacy, they strive for close

proximity or presence as Knapp and Vangelisti state (215).

        Thus, romantic lovers can be described as being intimate and passionate. As a result, they

are quick to engage in self-disclosure, sharing personal and oftentimes sexual information about

themselves early on in the relationship. They are driven by their imagination, thinking of and

fantasizing about their significant other frequently and strive to establish even more of a close

presence with them.
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       As individuals in a romantic relationship get to know each other, they look for ways to

increase the intimacy shared between them. But what is this intimacy that comprises a large part

of romantic love? Intimacy, like romantic love, has been difficult to define, with no agreed upon

definition. The social researcher, K. J. Prager, developed a three-part definition describing

intimacy as a type of interaction that includes self-disclosure, positive feelings expressed towards

and received from the other person, and a perceived improvement of understanding for the other

person.4 Burgoon and Hale in their article, “Validation and Measurement of the Fundamental

Themes of Relational Communication,” add the dependent factors of immediacy, similarity and

receptivity to the definition of intimacy (qtd. in Hian et al., par. 10). In addition, according to

research conducted by Vetere et al. regarding intimacy and technological design, intimacy can be

defined according to three themes. These themes are conditions that exist prior to intimacy as

antecedents, during acts of intimacy, known as constituents, and as a result or yield of intimate

acts. The antecedents are self-disclosure or mutual openness, trust and commitment. The

researchers found that the actual acts of intimacy could be summarized as emotional, reciprocal,

expressive, physical and both public and private. Ultimately, they found that intimacy utilizing

technology such as email resulted in feelings of greater presence or proximity to their loved one


       The combination of the aspects outlined above, results in a definition of intimacy that

correlates very closely with the definition of romantic love, most likely because intimacy is a

large part of romantic love. Intimacy exists as a result of self-disclosure, trust and commitment

between two people. Couples experience higher levels of intimacy when there is an immediate

information exchange, they have similar interests, and they are receptive to sharing or opening

themselves up to the other person. When these conditions are met, then the couple feels closer to
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each other or feels that they have a sense of closeness in each other‟s lives, emotionally and/or


       Romantic love exists because of the intimacy shared between two people. Without

intimacy, romantic love cannot be experienced. Furthermore, romantic love and intimacy have

common characteristics. They both rely on self-disclosure and a sense of presence. This means

that individuals are open with each other and receptive to the other person‟s sharing. Lovers

desire to become closer to their significant other in emotional and physical ways. Intimacy

fulfills this desire, making them feel a sense of emotional closeness or presence with their lover,

even when that person is not physically present.

       According to Milne, “[p]resence refers to the degree to which geographically dispersed

agents experience a sense of physical and/or psychological proximity through the use of

particular communication technologies” (par. 1). One such communication technology used by

romantic lovers for hundreds of years is the letter. Couples exchange letters, in order to achieve a

deeper level of intimacy and a closer degree of presence. Presence relies upon intimacy,

immediacy, and disembodiment in order to foster the desired proximity (Milne, par. 6). Lovers

separated by distance often want to maintain their romantic relationship. They have turned to

letter writing as a means to promote intimacy. In this way, epistolary exchange signifies the

absence of the recipient while in the same instance it bridges the gap between the author and he

recipient (Milne, par. 11). Since letter writing is often conducted between people that are

geographically dispersed, the speed of exchange is crucial to keeping the emotions of the

relationship alive. Lovers have been known to wait with great anticipation for a response from

their significant other. If a delay occurs or no response is received the emotions that were built

up can easily fade or even be replaced with anger or disappointment. They develop an imagined
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situation inside their mind to explain lack of or delay in response, utilizing the limited amount of

information they have about the situation to begin with.

       In fact, the “construction of imaginary presence is a fundamental feature of letter writing”

(Milne, par. 4). Thus, imagination and fantasy become important in supporting this type of

communication. This is especially true since Walther and Tidwell state that “[i]dealization is an

essential element of romantic love” (qtd. in Chenault, par. 31).5 The imaginative experience

created from the romance is magnified when the romance is conducted via epistolary exchange.

       Within recent years, CMC technologies have affected the nature of epistolary

relationships. Specifically, email communication has changed the primary aspects, such as

immediacy, self-disclosure, presence, disembodiment, and intimacy, which are central to

epistolary interpersonal communication. This has resulted in an improvement over letter-writing

relationships. Email supports rapid information exchanges, increased openness and reciprocity,

and a stronger sense of presence (Milne, par. 3). Lovers using email to correspond with each

other can experience immediate response. This speeding up of communication allows two people

to exchange thoughts, emotions and ideas more freely than with handwritten letters. The rapid

exchange rate also reinforces a sense of openness, allowing people to feel as if they can share

intimate details more easily and earlier in the relationship than face-to-face or letter-based

relationships could. Conversations then, are more direct and centered on topics that are of

particular importance to the couple. “Accordingly, superficial politeness is less common […]”

and emotional authenticity is more important (Ben-Ze‟ev 29). Jon Stratton states that “the

„virtual‟ nature of email combined with its speed produces a different kind of intimacy than that

experienced in [other types of] epistolary communication” (qtd. in Milne, par. 41). In other
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words, the fast rate of exchange and increased support for self-disclosure make people feel closer

to each other, closer than letters or at times face-to-face interaction can make them feel.

                                          Literature Review

        CMC is influenced by rapidly changing technology such as new advances in online

communication and the integration of multiple media formats into one communication system;

the recent introduction of voice enhanced instant messaging systems is an example.

Unfortunately, technology is developing, improving and changing extremely rapidly today, and it

is difficult for researchers to accurately study the effects before the technology changes or ceases

to exist. Therefore, researchers are left with no other choice than to apply the results of studies

performed on an outdated technology to recent technologies. For example, early studies of CMC

such as the research resulting in the cues filtered-out (CFO) perspective were conducted in

laboratory settings analyzing small groups of people working together on structured problems.

These studies don‟t account for the complexity of relationships using recent technology and

conducted in private environments. According to Chenault, a comprehensive study of CMC isn‟t

possible because “the very nature of CMC will always pose problems for researchers” due to the

fact that it is much simpler and easier to study group interaction as opposed to one-on-one

relationships (par. 23). Similarly, Vetere et al. state:

                Much of what passes between intimates is unsaid and premised on

                deep knowledge and understanding of one another and occurs in

                the context of a rich, shared and sometimes idiosyncratic view of

                the world that may be difficult for others to fathom and

                comprehend. (472)
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       Taking into account the current rapidly changing CMC environment, acknowledging the

limitations of past studies and realizing the complexity of intimate relationships, there exist two

competing categories of CMC theories: relationships lost and relationships liberated. The

relationships lost theories view online relationships as shallow, impersonal and harsh, stating that

these interactions, which lack nonverbal cues, result in impersonal communication (Hu et al. par.

6-10). The liberated perspective argues that CMC offers “[. . .] a more intense personal

impression of one‟s communicative partners, based on the few cues available” (Hian et al., par.

6). It is also believed that those theories supporting the lost relationship view are based on

insufficient field studies which make the results inaccurate (Hu et al., par. 12).

       J.B. Walther developed a Hyperpersonal Model of CMC described by Hian et al., which

attempts to spell out how CMC supports closeness between individuals and at times exceeds

face-to-face communications.6 He describes three conditions that are necessary for hyperpersonal

communication to occur: the receiver‟s idealization of their significant other, selective self-

representation by the sender, and reciprocity between the first two conditions that create a

feedback loop into itself (par. 7). In essence, hyperpersonal communication occurs when the

partners fantasize about each other frequently and are mutually open to sharing information.

Even though they may only share positive qualities about themselves, painting a positive picture,

self-disclosure can still take place. Interestingly, the characteristics of romantic love match this

definition of the Hyperpersonal Model of CMC almost precisely. Lovers quickly engage in self-

disclosure, sharing personal and sometimes sexual information about themselves early in their

relationship. They are consumed by their imagination, thinking of and fantasizing about their

significant other a lot and desire to create a closer presence with them. Typically, love fuels the

desire to become more intimate which causes the couple to fantasize about their lover even more.
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The closer they feel the more they mutually share intimate details with each other which feeds

back into increased imagination and self-disclosure ultimately leading to more intimacy.

Romantic lovers naturally fall into this Hyperpersonal Model of CMC because of these



       It is interesting to note that email, intimacy and romantic love are linked together by four

common aspects: intimacy, immediacy, self-disclosure and presence. Couples in love seek

increased levels of intimacy and a sense of closer emotional and physical proximity. Could it be

that they utilize email as a CMC tool to achieve this? This study aims to determine if the

common aspects mentioned above, established when a romantic relationship is initiated, are

reinforced via email exchanges between the couple. Does this email exchange account for

increased intimacy and does the couple seek to create a greater sense of presence, not only

geographically but emotionally, in order to keep the romantic relationship strong? When

romantic partners choose to utilize email as a communication tool, are they reinforcing the

intimacy between them? Do email exchanges between two partners contribute to closer and more

intimate feelings toward each other that transfers back into their face-to-face relationship?

       Romantic love is driven off of intimacy and passion. In addition, couples seek out

closeness by disclosing intimate details about themselves, oftentimes early in the relationship.

Their passion causes them to fantasize about each other, creating a sense of presence even when

they are physically separated. Their desire and passion for continued closeness prompt them to

value a rapid exchange of personal information sharing. Intimacy, a crucial component that

makes up romantic love, is also driven by this sense of immediacy. When trust and commitment

exist between a couple, they are more open with each other. They feel better able to risk
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exposing a deeper level of themselves with the hope that the other person will reciprocate. This

process of intimate self-disclosure relies often-times on the speed in which this information is

exchanged. When one person shares and immediately responds with a similar openness, the

intimacy is heightened making them feel a stronger connection. Intimacy is achieved when

lovers feel “a strong sense of presence-in-absence, a sense of the other despite their physical

absence” (qtd. in Vetere, 477).7 Basically the couple invests a lot of effort in “ensuring that their

partners stay with them, at the forefront of their hearts and minds, throughout daily life” (Vetere,


        Do lovers maintain this sense of intimacy, presence and romantic love by utilizing

communication tools? Email is one such CMC tool that meshes quite naturally with romantic

love and intimacy. That‟s because it requires intimacy, self-disclosure, presence, and immediacy

in order to be successful; the same aspects needed to support romantic love and intimacy itself.

Intimate email correspondence may have an effect on the emotion, passion, and fantasy

experienced from romantic love.

                                          Research Design


        This study is interested in examining the romantic relationships shared between couples

and how a CMC medium such as email is used between these individuals to reinforce their face-

to-face relationship. Such a study entails disclosure of intimate and personal details by the

participants. Thus, a qualitative approach has been selected that will utilize individual journals

and interviews to collect data that will be analyzed in a descriptive way. Questionnaires will also

be created and the data collected will be analyzed utilizing quantitative analysis.
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       The variable model on the next page outlines the independent and dependent variables for

this study (See Fig. 2). The attributes of CMC, specifically email exchange (x1) and

characteristics of the couple‟s relationship (x2) have an affect on the couple‟s perception of their

romantic love relationship (y1). The instruments designed for this study will collect data that

assesses these variables.

       independent variable measures. In order to assess the attributes of CMC and its use by

the participants, a questionnaire will be used. Participants will be asked questions relating to

CMC and their use of email as a tool for communicating with their significant other. The aim is

to determine their background in utilizing communication tools such as the telephone, cell

phone, email and instant messages. Data will be collected on their familiarity with email and

how long they have been using email as a communication method. Participants will be chosen

for the study based upon their use of email in communicating with their significant other. Once

selected for the study, data on frequency of email exchange, length and content of messages will

be collected via personal journals and interviews.

       Data on characteristics of the couples will also be collected during the initial

questionnaire assessment. Participants will be asked to reveal information about themselves and

their relationships. The aim is to collect data on duration of relationship, marital status, living

arrangements, age, number of children, occupation, race and income. This questionnaire will

reveal general characteristics about the couples that will be utilized to pool and recruit

participants for the study. If the couple is chosen to take part in the study, the data will then be

used to perform descriptive analysis.
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       dependent variable measures. Romantic love, the dependent variable in this study will be

assessed using Sternberg‟s Triangular Love Scale (Sternberg 137). The scale contains 45

questions that assess three components of love: intimacy, passion and commitment on a nine-

point scale where the lowest point is 1 and equals “not at all”, the midpoint is 5 and equals

“moderately” and the highest point is 9 and equates to “extremely”. The intimacy component

assesses self-disclosure, presence and other aspects of intimacy. The passion component captures

data on the aspects of a romantic relationship that pertain to fantasy, imagination and physical

attraction. The third section, commitment, is focused on assessing a person‟s feeling of stability

and permanence of the relationship.

                           Figure 2: Dependent and Independent Variables
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         criterion validity. In order to define how well the instruments in a study measures data,

they need to be compared to similar valid instruments. A good instrument will yield similar

results as other previously validated instruments that measure the same construct. In this study,

the Triangular Love Scale, developed by Sternberg is an instrument that has been used in other

studies with consistent results (137).

         construct validity. To determine if the data gathered is actually measuring the construct

being studied, the literature review, analysis of theories on romantic love and CMC tools and the

examination of instruments/models used in similar studies will need to be performed.

         Reliability To ensure that the instrument is able to repeatedly yield the same results each

time it is used, pilot testing of the questionnaires has been built into the timeline for this study. .


         An initial questionnaire will be distributed to obtain a pool of potential participants. By

gathering data pertaining to attributes of CMC such as use of email exchange and the nature of

their romantic relationship, couples will be selected to participate in the study. The data from this

questionnaire with then be used for descriptive analysis for those selected to participate in the


         Once the participants are identified, a four-week journaling process will begin. The

participants will be asked to keep a daily journal recording frequency and number of email

exchanges per day. In addition, they will be asked to record personal information such as

meaning of content, emotional connotation of emails and the environment in which the emails

were sent and received. Meetings will be scheduled at the end of each week to review journal

entries and gauge accuracy of journal completion. Semi-structured interviews will also take place
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at this time to expand and interpret the journal entries and obtain more information regarding

how email affects their romantic relationships.

        At the conclusion of the four week journaling process, the participants will complete their

final interview. Then they will be given a questionnaire including the Triangular Love Scale and

some additional questions. The questionnaire will gather data that will assess three components

of their romantic relationships: intimacy, passion and commitment.

Sampling Plan

        A judgmental or purposive sampling method will be utilized to identify couples who will

complete the initial questionnaire. The researcher will distribute the questionnaire to couples

identified via personal contact, email or telephone calls. Since a critical, descriptive study will be

performed on such a complex concept as romantic love, only six couples will be selected from

the initial pool of candidates. If this descriptive study yields significant results, then the study

can be repeated using a randomized sampling method.

Information Analysis

        The data gathered from the initial questionnaire will be analyzed using descriptive

statistics. This will yield general descriptive information on demographics, couple characteristics

and CMC/email communication information. Qualitative analysis techniques will be utilized to

analyze the journals and interview notes using transcript coding and interpretation. After each

scheduled weekly meeting, the journals will be transcribed and interview notes analyzed to

identify themes. These themes will immediately be grouped so that patterns can be identified and

interview structure and journal guidance adjusted for the subsequent weeks.

        The Triangular Love Scale will be analyzed using quantitative analysis. The score will be

used to determine how each individual in the relationship perceives love regarding intimacy,
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passion and commitment. The mean rating for the questions in each of the three sections

(intimacy, passion and commitment) will be determined. Utilizing the nine-point scale, 5 would

indicate that the individual perceives a moderate amount of intimacy, passion or commitment.

Ratings less than 5 would indicate lower perceptions of the component and rating greater than 5

would indicate a stronger perception of the component.
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                                          Possible Problems

       The study of romantic relationships presents a number of challenges that are distinct from

the study of other relationships. As Vetere et al indicate, “intimate acts are ephemeral and

transient yet ubiquitous and crucial to the ongoing life of an intimate relationship” (472). Though

these acts hold deep meaning shared between a couple, they are often viewed as insignificant and

trivial to outsiders which makes it difficult for observers to interpret.

               Much of what passes between intimates is unsaid and premised on

               deep knowledge and understanding of one another and occurs in

               the context of a rich, shared and sometimes idiosyncratic view of

               the world that may be difficult for others to fathom and

               comprehend. (Vetere et al 472)

       This uniquely personal method of sharing can make it very difficult for couples to

describe how they feel or what they experience when they communicate with each other.

Additionally, since the exchanges between romantically involved couples involve high levels of

self-disclosure, it may be difficult for participants to reveal themselves fully to others outside of

the relationship.

                                         Potential Solutions

       Taking into consideration the intimate and private nature of romantic relationships, the

study was designed to capture the unique, meaningful experiences of the participants without

appearing overly disruptive. Thus journaling offers a mechanism that enables the participants to

record typically private and privileged information and experiences on their own terms and in

their own words. Weekly interviews then allow the participants the opportunity to expand upon

and explain their journal entries while still fresh in their minds.
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       The study will be conducted over the course of 16 weeks as indicated in Figure 3.

                                     Figure 3: Timeline for Study


       This study will serve as a small, preliminary, descriptive study analyzing the effects that

email has on romantic relationships shared by couples. If the finding of this study are significant,

a more in depth follow-up study will be performed. The implications of this study and further

ones if performed, will allow other researchers to understand the importance of CMC tools such

as email and its importance in reinforcing romantic relationships. If it is found that email has a

significant effect on romantic relationships, new products and services could potentially be

developed. These potential products and services could provide improved communication

methods that reinforce relationships, making them stronger.
Hauser 20
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           Lee‟s work is described, among others‟ research, in Knapp‟s reference text. See J.A.

Lee, The Colors of Love (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice, 1976).
           Sternberg‟s Triangular Theory of Love is briefly defined in Knapp. See R.J. Sternberg,

The Triangle Theory of Love: Intimacy, Passion, Commitment (New York: Basic, 1988).
           E. Berscheid and E. Walster, “A Little Bit About Love,” ed. T.L. Huston, Foundations

of Interpersonal Attraction (New York: Academic, 1974) 355-381.
           K. J. Prager, The Psychology of Intimacy (New York: Guilford, 1995).
           J. B. Walther and L. C. Tidwell, “Nonverbal Cues in Computer-Mediated

Communication, and the Effects of Chronemics on Relational Communication,” Journal of

Organizational Computing, 5.4 (1995): 355+.
           J. B. Walther, “Computer-Mediated Communication: Impersonal, Interpersonal ad

Hyperpersonal Interaction,” Communication Research, 23.1 (1996): 3-43.
           L. Register and T. Henley, “The Phenomenology of Intimacy,” Journal of Social and

Personal Relationships, 9 (1992): 467-481.
                                                                                    Hauser 22

                                          Works Cited

Ben-Ze‟ev, Aaron. Love Online: Emotions on the Internet. New York: Cambridge UP, 2004.

Bertacco, M., and Antonella Deponte. “Email as a Speed-Facilitating Device: A Contribution to

       the Reduced-Cues Perspective on Communication.” Journal of Computer-Mediated

       Communication. 10.3 (2005): 39 pars. 12 Apr. 2006.


Chenault, Brittney G. “Developing Personal and Emotional Relationships Via Computer-

       Mediated Communication.” Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine. 1 May 1998.

       22 Apr. 2006. <>.

Hian, Lee Bee, Sim Li Chuan, Tan Mon Kiat Trevor, and Benjamin H. Detenber. “Getting to

       Know You: Exploring the Development of Relational Intimacy in Computer-Mediated

       Communication.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 9.3 (2004): 66 pars.

       12 Apr. 2006. <>.

Hu, Yifeng, Jacqueline Fowler Wood, Vivian Smith, and Nalova Westbrook. “Friendships

       Through IM: Examining the Relationship Between Instant Messaging and Intimacy.”

       Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 10.1 (2004): 45 pars. 12 Apr. 2006.


Knapp, Mark L, and Anita L. Vangelisti. Interpersonal Communication and Human

       Relationships. Boston: Allyn, 2000.

Milne, Esther. “Email and Epistolary Technologies: Presence, Intimacy, Disembodiment.”

       Fibrecutlure Journal. 2 (2003): 44 pars. 26 Apr. 2006.

                                                                                     Hauser 23

Shreve, Jenn. “Epistolary Romance, Digital Style.” 27 Apr. 1998: 2 pp. Salon Media

       Group, Inc. 18 Apr. 2006


Sternberg, R.J. Cupid's Arrow. New York: Cambridge UP, 1998.

Turkle, Sherry. Life On the Screen. New York: Simon, 1995.

Vetere, Frank, Martin R. Gibbs, Jesper Kjeldskov, Steve Howard, Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, Sonja

       Pedell, Karen Mecoles, and Marcus Bunyan. “Mediating Intimacy: Designing

       Technologies to Support Strong-Tie Relationships.” Proceedings of the SIGCHI

       Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2005, Portland, Oregon 2-7 April

       2005. New York: ACM, 2005. 471-480.

                                                         Hauser 24

Appendix A

                                 Initial Questionnaire

Relationship Status
o Dating
o Married

Number of years in relationship: _______

Living Arrangement:
o Together
o Separately

Do you have children?
o Yes
o No

How many? _______
Number of children living at home: _______

Age of each person in relationship:
Man ____
Woman ____

Race of each person in relationship:
Man _____
Woman ______

Occupation of each person in relationship:
Man ____
Woman ____

Gross Income of each person in relationship:
Man ____
Woman ____

Do you own a computer?
o Yes
o No

Do you have access to a computer?
o Yes
o No
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Preferred method for communicating with significant other (rate each from 1 to 4 with
one being preferred and 4 not as preferred):

___ Telephone (landline)
___ Cell Phone
___ Instant Message
___ Email

Do you use email as a way of communicating with your significant other?
o Yes
o No

Where do you send most of your emails from?
o Home
o Work
o Other ____________
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Appendix B

                                         Journal Format

Each person will be provided a journal to record information regarding email exchanges with
their significant other on a daily basis. To maintain privacy the content of the emails will not be
revealed, however, each participant will be asked to tag every email with a unique ID number in
order to record the following information:

           -   Timestamps of each email received. from significant other
           -   Timestamps of each email sent to significant other

           -   Word count of each email received. from significant other
           -   Word count of each email sent to significant other

           -   Free-form journal entries that record how the content of sent/received emails
               made them feel, how they feel toward the other person.
                                                                                                Hauser 27

Appendix C
                                        Triangular Love Scale

Read each statement below and fill in the blank with the name of the person you love or care about
deeply. In the blank spaces in front of each statement, indicate your agreement with it. Use the nine-point
scale below:

                  1        2        3        4     5     6            7       8     9
                Not at all                       Moderately                       Extremely

A. Intimacy

    1. I am actively supportive of _____’s well-being.                                     
    2. I have a warm relationship with _____.                                              
    3. I am able to count on _____ in times of need.                                       
    4. _____ is able to count on me in times of need.                                      
    5. I am willing to share myself and my possessions with _____.                         
    6. I receive considerable emotional support from _____.                                
    7. I give considerable emotional support to _____.                                     
    8. I communicate well with _____.                                                      
    9. I value _____ greatly in my life.                                                   
    10. I feel close to _____.                                                             
    11. I have a comfortable relationship with _____.                                      
    12. I feel that I really understand _____.                                             
    13. I feel that _____ really understands me.                  `                        
    14. I feel that I can really trust _____.                                              
    15. I share deeply personal information about myself with _____.                       
B. Passion

    16. Just seeing _____ excites me.                                                      
    17. I find myself thinking about _____ frequently during the day.                      
    18. My relationship with _____ is very romantic.                                       
    19. I find _____ to be very personally attractive.                                     
    20. I idealize _____.                                                                  
                                                                                 Hauser 28

    21. I cannot imagine another person making me as happy as _____ does.          
    22. I would rather be with _____ than with anyone else.                        
    23. There is nothing more important to me than my relationship with _____.     
    24. I especially like physical contact with _____.                             
    25. There is something almost “magical” about my relationship with _____.      
    26. I adore _____.                                                             
    27. I cannot imagine life without _____.                                       
    28. My relationship with _____ is passionate.                                  
    29. When I see romantic movies or read romantic books I think of _____.        
    30. I fantasize about _____.                                                   
C. Commitment

    31. I know that I care about _____.                                            
    32. I am committed to maintaining my relationship with _____.                  
    33. Because of my commitment to _____, I would not let other people come between
    us.                                                                            
    34. I have confidence in the stability of my relationship with _____.          
    35. I could not let anything get in the way of my commitment to _____.         
    36. I expect my love for _____ to last for the rest of my life.                
    37. I will always have a strong responsibility for _____.                      
    38. I view my commitment to _____ as a solid one.                              
    39. I cannot imagine ending my relationship with _____.                        
    40. I am certain of my love for _____.                                         
    41. I view my relationship with _____ as permanent.                            
    42. I view my relationship with _____ as a good decision.                      
    43. I feel a sense of responsibility toward _____.                             
    44. I plan to continue in my relationship with _____.                          
    45. Even when _____ is hard to deal with, I remain committed to our relationship.
Source: Sternberg, R.J. Cupid's Arrow. New York: Cambridge UP, 1998.
                                                                                   Hauser 29

Appendix D

                             RESEARCH CONSENT FORM

Subject Name:                                  Date:

Title of Study:
Email as a Computer Mediated Communication Tool and Its Effects on Romantic Love

Principal Researcher:
Lisa M. Hauser
PO Box 305
Quakertown, NJ 08868

Before agreeing to participate in this research study, it is important that you read and
understand the following explanation of the proposed procedures. It describes the
purpose, procedures and description of the study. It also describes your right to
withdraw from the study at any time.

Purpose of the study and how long it will last:
The purpose of this study is to assess the relationship between aspects of a romantic
relationship and the use of a email exchanges between a couple engaged in a romantic

Description of the study including the procedures to be used:
Information will be collected via personal journals, interviews and questionaires. All
materials for journaling will be provided and interviews will be scheduled and conducted
at the convenience of the participants.

The journaling will be conducted for a duration of four-weeks and weekly meetings will
be scheduled to review the progress of the journal entries and answer questions and

Confidentiality of research records:
All information collected during this study will be kept strictly confidential. Your name
and other personal information will not be shared with anyone outside of this study.
                                                                                   Hauser 30

                          Reseach Consent Form -Page 1 of 2

                      RESEARCH CONSENT FORM (Continued)

This research study has been reviewed and approved by the NJIT Institutional Review
Board (IRB). If I have any questions regarding my rights as a research subject, I may
contact the NJIT IRB at (908) 555-5555.

RESEARCH SUBJECTS’ RIGHTS: I have read or have had read to me all of the

Lisa Hauser has explained the study to me and answered all of my questions.

I understand that I do not have to take part in this study, and my refusal to participate or
my decision to withdraw will involve no penalty or loss of rights or benefits. The study
personnel may choose to stop my participation at any time.

In case I have questions regarding this study, I have been told I can call Lisa Hauser at
telephone number 908-797-1815.

I understand my rights as a research subject, and I voluntarily consent to participate in
this study. I understand what the study is about and how and why it is being done. I
have been told I will receive a signed copy of this consent form.

                     Signature of Subject                                   Date

For the Researcher or Designee:

I certify that I have reviewed the contents of this form with the
person signing above, who, in my opinion, understood the

        Signature of Principal Researcher & Designee                        Date

                          Reseach Consent Form -Page 2 of 2

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