Analyzing Miscommunication and Preferences in Face-to-Face vs. Texting Among College Students

Adam Bouaricha, Emily Haddad, Ryan Kimura, Usuhe Maston, Natalia Adomaitis

Reportedly, 97% of young adults aged 18 to 24 are actively engaged in texting (Smith, 2011). Central to our inquiry is exploring how college students adeptly navigate misunderstandings and mend communication breakdowns within their text-based interactions with peers, friends, and romantic partners. Specifically focusing on the demographic of college students aged 18 to 22, our study delves into the myriad factors contributing to miscommunication within this cohort. Using a comprehensive mixed-method approach, we integrate surveys with picture-based evidence for enhanced analysis. Drawing upon the framework of multimodal conversational analysis, our research endeavors to unravel the intricacies of repair mechanisms, encompassing trouble sources, repair initiation, and ensuing solutions in text-based interactions. Analysis of our diverse sample of college students unveils that critical trouble sources, such as the absence of tone and social cues, substantially influence the occurrence of misunderstandings. Participants demonstrate a keen awareness of communication breakdowns, prompting proactive engagement in repair solutions to rectify discrepancies. Through rigorous thematic analysis of survey responses, we discern prevalent patterns and adaptive strategies individuals employ to navigate the complexities of miscommunication within text-based interactions. Ultimately, this study enriches our understanding of the nuanced challenges inherent in digital communication practices among college students, contributing valuable insights to the broader discourse on effective communication in the digital age.

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