Why Distance Matters: Effects on Cooperation, Persuasion and Deception

Erin Bradner, Gloria Mark

ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work


In this study, we examine how geographic distance affects collaboration using computer-mediated communication technology. We investigated experimentally the effects of cooperating partners being in the same or distant city on three behaviors: cooperation, persuasion, and deception using video conferencing and instant messaging (IM). Our results indicate that subjects are more likely to deceive, be less persuaded by, and initially cooperate less, with someone they believe is in a distant city, as opposed to in the same city as them. Although people initially cooperate less with someone they believe is far away, their willingness to cooperate increases quickly with interaction. Since the same media were used in both the far and near city conditions, these effects cannot be attributed to the media, but rather to social differences. This study confirms how CSCW needs to be concerned with developing technologies for bridging social distance, as well as geographic distance.

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