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Theory of Social Information Processing

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Theory of Social Information Processing

In 1992 Joseph Walther developed the theory of social information processing (SIP). According

to Wikipedia, social information processing theory is an interpersonal communication theory that

suggest that online interpersonal relationship development might require more time to develop than

traditional face-to-face relationships. Ultimately once this type of relationship is formed, it grows and

matures just as any other face to face relationship would.

Traditional relationship development is based on verbal communication and physical cues.

Humans make conclusions on trusting others from watching facial expressions, body posture, and voice

tone, and etc. Online relationships tend to take longer because these nonverbal cues are nonexistent.

Textual is the main element involved in a person forming impressions. It is difficult to filter

communication when certain mechanisms are not present. A textual communication with a person

could mean something totally different from a face to face conversation. The words could be the same

and the intent of the meaning the same, but the impression of what was said could be different in the


In regards to news media, the theory is proven to be correct. In the current day and time,

society receives news media mainly online. So, whether it is received from an actual news website or

second hand media, it is a textual communication. Some individuals may interpret a story being a

serious development from the wording, while others may read between the lines and assume that it is

something less relevant. As reported by ABC News, in the conclusion of the Casey Anthony murder trial,

Anthony, who sat grim faced throughout the six week of testimony, beamed happily as she was

fingerprinted in the courtroom for her misdemeanors convictions. Reading that statement and actually

watching was different. I personally perceived her smile as deceptive and cunning.

The social information processing theory holds very strong points. It is easily relatable to the way

humans form connections. In this ever changing world,



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