This summer I presented our ongoing research on designing for commitment to online groups at the sixth annual conference of the Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research (INGRoup 2011), July 21-23rd in Minneapolis, MN:

Dabbish, L., Kraut, R., & Patton, J. Should I stay or should I go? Depends on how you talk to me: Communication and team commitment. Presentation at the Sixth Annual INGRoup Conference, July 21st-23rd in Minneapolis, MN.

In this work, we examined the role of communication in fostering commitment to a group. Previous work in organizational psychology has demonstrated a positive correlation between communication and organizational and team commitment. This previous work has largely been cross-sectional and survey-based. As a result, it remains unclear whether communication fosters commitment by getting people involved (being talked to leads to talking which ultimately creates commitment) or creating a social environment (being talked to is enough). We conducted a study in a massively multiplayer online game, where participants were randomly assigned to a group with a confederate. We varied the type of talk (silent, talked about on task things or talked about off task things) and the role of the person doing the talking (leader or peer). Our results suggest that both on task and off task communication fosters commitment by creating a certain environment (versus as a function of the participants own talk).

If you are interested in a copy of the working paper, please send me an email.