Article Comparison On The In-person Support Versus Text Messaging Support Issue

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As technology has been on the rise, the use of digital communication has increased as a way for individuals to reach out and connect when under stress. Although this creates an accessible way for individuals to support each other and keep in touch, the question arises whether digital support is as beneficial to an individuals wellbeing as face-to-face support has been shown to be. The aim of this paper is to analyze Holtzman, DeClerck, Turcotte, Lisi & Woolworth?s (2017) article and compare the findings stated within the CBC article (?In-person?, 2017) The outcome being that the information is far too vague to understand the true results of the experiment.

In-Person Support Verse Text Messaging Support, Article Comparison

With the increase of technology development, the use of texting as a way to connect has greatly risen. This brings to light whether technology is able to adequately give individuals the emotional support needed in times of stress. This paper will be analyzing Holtzman et al?s., (2017) article on the impact in-person support has on well-being as well as comparing the CBC overview of the original research article (?In-person?, 2017).

Summary of Research Article

Holtzman et al?s., (2017) article examined the impact of social support that in-person, and text-support have on an individual after participating in a stressful task. The first experiment consisted of 64 female participants, who were divided into three conditions, in-person support, where a friend accompanied for support, in-text support where a friend provided digital support through texting and a control group where no support was given. All participants underwent a Trier Social Stress task (TSST), they were asked to give a five minute speech about why they should be hired for a job as well as attempt an arithmetic task that involved counting down by 17 in front of a panel of strangers. It was shown that the in-person condition had a significant affect when compared to text support. Furthermore those in the control condition and in the text messaging condition did not show a significant difference in positive affect levels.

Experiment two mirrored the initial study but used educated confederates as the support manipulation conditon. 188 participants, both males and females, were again divided into the three conditions, in-person, texting, and control and it was found that again positive affect was significantly higher in the in-person support condition compared to the texting condition. It was also found that the texting condition had higher significant affect than those in the control, as well as support was overall higher in the in-person condition.

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Comparing the two experiments it was shown that social support plays a large role in well being and that those who rely on digital support may experience personal coasts. Furthermore the findings support the evolutionary theories that in-person communication is more effective when looking at emotional support for individuals (Holtzman et al., 2017).

Summary of CBC News Article

CBC states that in-person support is better for individuals who are experiencing stress, quoting Holtzman?s statements that although text messaging is better than nothing, face-to-face interaction is a better alternative when the option is there. The CBC article is very vague when talking about the actual study, it explains the different conditions of the experiments, but fails to divide the two experiments or give any information on the participants relating to age, gender or how it was formally conducted. The article is very short and is composed mostly of quotes from the researchers or paper as well as links to digital support lines and lacks concrete evidence from the study (?in-person?, 2017).

Purpose & Background Research

Due to the increase of communicating through digital platforms, researchers began looking at the implications digital communication could have on individuals wellbeing. Holtzman et al?s., (2017) study focuses on a few theories such as, the ?cues filtered out? theory examined by Culnan, and Markus (1987), which suggests that the effectiveness and quality of conversations decrees when it is not face-to-face due to the lack of body gestures. It is thought that the more visual cues, the more easily an individual is able to understand what is trying to be conveyed (Culnan & Markus,1987).

A few evolutionary theories such as media naturalness, and compensation emphasize the idea that humans have a biological apparatus that is based around communication. It is based around the idea that digital communication relies heavier on cognitive labour and is seen more unpleasant that in-person communication (Kock, 2004). Other researchers believe this to be untrue and that evolutionarily we will begin to adapt to not having nonverbal cues. Walther (2011) developed a theory called the social information processing theory, which predicts that humans will learn to process digital information no differently than in-person communication. Because of these inconsistencies between theories, researchers have began studying such behaviour in order to understand how these forms of support impact individuals wellbeing.


Within experiment 1, 64 females were divided into three conditions, in-person support, where a friend accompanied for support, in-text support where a friend provided digital support through texting and a control group where no support was given. All participants arrived at the lab and underwent a 15-minute acclimation period to normalize initial baseline measurements. Patricians then endured a Trier Social Stress task (TSST), where they were asked to give a five minute speech as to why they should be hired for a job as well as attempt an arithmetic task, counting down by 17 in front of a panel of strangers. Once this task was over participants then completed a post-stress measurement and then was subjected to the support manipulation, where they either met with their friend, texted a friend, or were left alone without any form of support for 10 minutes. Subsequently participants again filled out a post-stress measurement, and finished with a follow up measurement after another 20 minutes rest (Holtzman et al., 2017).

The second experiment which consisted of 188 participants, both men and women, followed the same procedures as the first but instead of having a friend as a form of support in either condition, they were accompanied by or texted a trained female confederate. Researchers also removed the final follow up as they found held no significance (Holtzman et al., 2017).


For experiment 1, no significant differences within the baseline levels were found, yet repeated ANOVAs showed significant differences in each condition, which consisted of positive affect, negative affect and perceived stress, over the 4 different time periods. Each having a p value of < 0.001. Looking at positive affect there was a significant decrease from the baseline measurement to post stress task, a significant increase from post stress measurements to post-support measures and one last increase from post-support to follow up.

Looking at negative affect it alternately followed an opposite pattern, as there was a significant increase from baseline to the post stress task, it then decreased from post stress test to support and again significantly decreased from post support to follow up. Perceived stressed followed the same pattern as negative affects. When looking at the relationship between in-person support and positive affect in comparison to the text messaging support condition we can see a significant finding (p value = 0.007). No further significant differences were found in the follow up or satisfaction.

Experiment 2 found similar results to experiment 1 as there were no differences in baseline levels as well as all three conditions followed the same patterns. Similar to experiment 1 participants that were in the in-person support conditions found significantly greater positive affect in contrast to those in the in-text condition (p value = 0.045). Further, the text messaging condition found to have significantly larger levels of positive affect compared to the control group (p value = 0.001). Within the negative affect it was shown that there was a significant difference within the in-person condition having significantly less negative affect than the control condition (p value = 0.027). With regards to satisfaction there was a significant finding which stated that in-person support claimed higher levels of satisfaction when it came to the level of support given (p value = 0.011) (Holtzman et al., 2017).


Overall Holtzman et al, (2017) found that in both experiment 1 and 2, those who received in-person support reported much significantly higher positive affect and satisfaction than those in the texting or control condition. The authors amplified the idea that social support plays a large role in individuals wellbeing and that there may be personal costs to engaging in digital forms of communication rather than in-person social support. These costs were contributed to the misinterpretation of digital messaging, due to the lack of nonverbal cues. Furthermore looking at the evolutionary theories that state, the more cognitive labour a conversation induces the more an individual sees the conversation as being unpleasant. We can see this to be proven, as in-person communication was stated to not only have higher positive affects but also was rated to be greater satisfying than both other conditions (Holtzman et al., 2017).

Article Comparison

Comparing Holtzman et al?s., (2017) research article to the CBC news article, we can see that CBC?s posting was much to vague to encompass the full truth behind the two experiments that were conducted. Although none of the information that was written was particularly wrong, it left out significant evidence that would help present the claims being made. The article ended with a quote from Holtzman as well as a statement claiming that while text support is better than nothing in-person support is the most beneficial. This claim is not incorrect based off of the study but is not surrounded by any evidence to prove its significance within the article (?In-person?, 2017).

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