Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Karen Tracy

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of text messaging in conflict situations among roommates as well as within unique situations that only roommates are faced with. For that reason, a review of the literature was done on conflict, sensitive issues, and text messaging. A final goal of the study was to focus on the role of group text messaging specifically. The study investigates two questions: how do roommates understand the role of text messaging in managing their relationship and how do they actually use text messaging to manage their relationships. Therefore, the study involved two parts: first, a group of roommates participated in a 60-minute focus group about their use of text messaging. Then, more than 1,000 text messages were collected over a three-month period from this same group of roommates. The qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data revealed several findings. First, the study found that roommates do not resort to the use of group text in times of conflict. The main cause of roommates resorting to other means of communication resulted from the roommates’ desire to save face. The study’s second finding was that group text messaging is seen as more face-threatening than handing conflict through individual text messages. Third, the study found that the roommates do discuss sensitive issues via a group text. The distinction the roommates made between conflict and sensitive issues shows that there are indeed situations that are not considered conflict but yet still cause some level of discomfort. Finally, the study found that the roommates’ thoughts about how they used the group text message reflected their actual use of group text. The limitations of the study are addressed and suggestions are given for future research.

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